Monday, August 10, 2009

Back-to-school shopping tips for 2009

It’s almost that time again. School starts in a month and retailers are doing their best to lure us into making a whack of back-to-school purchases between now and then.

For many of us bloggers who talk about shopping, parenting and fashion, this is also a time when we get bombarded with a lot of information about what our kids must have before they go back to school. Unfortunately, most of what I’ve received has been directed at U.S. consumers. Since Bargainista is really a place where Canadians who love shopping connect, I thought I’d share the couple Canadian items with you.

Visa Canada (a client of Fleishman-Hillard and iStudio, my employer) released a study last week looking at the shopping habits of Canadians, what they buy and where they shop, in the weeks leading up to Labour Day.

Here are some of the findings:

Canadians parents and students plan on spending an average of $600 online before Labour Day, with approximately 15% going towards school supplies

Of the online shoppers who plan to make an online purchase between now and Labour Day; popular purchases include books (49%), travel (36%) and computers (31%)

Canadian online shoppers made an average of 7.1 purchases on Canadian websites, 4.8 purchases on U.S. websites, and 0.5 purchases on international websites

I don’t know about you but with two growing boys who have gone through tremendous growth spurts in the past few months, our back-to-school spending will be through the roof. We’ll be doing our best to keep costs down while knowing we need to buy school supplies, clothing, cell phones (their contracts have expired, we’ll opt for new plans with “free” phones) and have some money left over for some family fun before school begins.

For school supplies, read the comments on It’s School Supply Time in Canada! for tips.

For clothing basics, check out Bargainmoose shares her Old Navy bargain hunting secrets for great tips on how to save at Old Navy.

My kids love Threadless and they’re having a big sale now through August 17, 11 a.m. ET. If you shop today by 11 a.m. ET, you can use this code “awesome49243” to save an extra $3 on your purchase. Update: you can use this code at checkout “awesome27945” until August 13 11 a.m. ET to save an extra $3 on your purchase.

Looking for desks and other furniture on a budget? Don’t forget to check out sites like Craigslist and kijii.

If it’s big ticket items like laptops and cell phones you need, Wishabi* is a comparison shopping community that will help you find the best products at the lowest prices. Wishabi has just launched a text books search for university students.

“It’s an interface that allows students to find the best deals on text books compared to their University book store,” according to Wishabi’s CEO, Wehuns Tan, “Students being money savers love this kind of stuff and we compare books on both sides of the border. What we’ve seen is that with the high CAD/USD conversion, purchasing across the border is heating up significantly.”

And on the subject of cross-border shopping, if your finding unique items or better prices on U.S. websites, Visa Canada has partnered with Borderlinx – a new service providing Canadian’s with a U.S. address. Borderlinx will even calculate currency conversion, duties, taxes and shipping so you can see the total cost before you decide to buy. Also, if you want to shop at several U.S. online stores, Borderlinx allows you to consolidate your purchases so you can save on shipping costs.

Membership in Borderlinx is free (regularly $30) and you’ll save 15% on shipping costs for the rest of the year if you have a Visa card. Now I’ll be able to get my little one some of the licensed wrestling paraphernalia without the hassle of crazy shipping fees for Canadian residents.

Where do you do the bulk of your back-to-school shopping? Find any deals? What are your favourite shopping tips?

*Note: Mark Evans and Jodi Echakowitz on behalf Echo Communications provided information about their client, Wishabi.


  1. Jason Brommet3:08 pm

    This is a great post. Great info to know as the kids head back to school.

    I'm Jason - I work with the team at Microsoft Canada and I wanted to share another great deal that's in line with these others.

    In an effort to give university students a hand, we're making the Office Ultimate 2007 suite available to students for only $64which is a 91% savings over its usual retail price of $889.

    The only requirements you need to meet to be eligible for the deal are that you must be a university or college student at an educational institution located in Canada and that you have a valid university or college email
    address. Also, eligible students need to purchase the software at this link:

    If you would like to keep up to speed on our deals follow us on Twitter @MSOfficeCanada.


  2. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for your comment and sharing more ways to save on back-to-school items. The student offer for Office Ultimate 2007 sound like a great deal.

    I'll check out your Twitter account to check for other offers.

    I welcome other readers to share their back-to-school deals too - one rule - brands or their representatives must follow your lead and disclose their relationship.

    (Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of iStudio's sister company, High Road Communications.)


  3. picking up on Jason's comments about the university crowd I think there are a couple of more offers that might be of interest.

    I'm Lars and provide PR support for a clients like Lenovo and in Canada and have in that context a couple of items worth sharing.

    First off, Lenovo is doing a promotion at campus bookstores that gives students a netbook, an LCD monitor and a desktop all for $999! It's available at campus bookstores at Dalhousie, York University, Waterloo, McMaster and UBC.

    As well another client is holding an online contest that gives you a chance to win a $5,000 online shopping spree by simply submitting a video describing "what you do with the money you save by shopping online at".

    The contest will get going in mid September and more information will be available then at in mid September as well as the company's various social media networks.

  4. Great Post!!i want to introduce this site here you will some deals which is good for the children.

  5. Thanks for mentioning my blog Bargainista! I love your blog :-)

  6. Lars and Deals Hunt, thanks for adding to the list of BTS bargains.

    Boo, thanks so much for stopping by. You know I've been a big fan of SmartCanucks for a long time. You're doing a great job of building the community.


  7. First of all., your site looks really good in pink. love the layout and the header rocks. Your post about back to school items are really helpful. This really helps. You have a really good blog.


Thanks for visiting my blog. Your feedback is important to me. I read every single comment and do my best to reply.

Note: Anonymous comments and spam will be deleted.