According to a recent poll conducted on behalf of RBC, released August 5th, 2010, six out of 10 American families with children still at home plan to spend less on back-to-school purchases this year than last year — or nothing at all. Only nine percent said that they actually planned to spend more, while 29 percent stated that their back-to-school shopping would stay the same as the previous year. News that consumers are loathe to open their wallet for back-to-school purchases comes on the eve of many states’ tax-free weekend events.
Thrift Stores May Participate In Sales Tax-Free Weekend
Tight household budgets might not find a lot of room for expensive jeans, shirts and shoes needed by children who have outgrown last year’s clothing. Parents seeking to save the most money on back-to-school clothes may wish to shop at gently used shops such as Once Upon a Child, Plato’s Closet (for teens) and the local Goodwill.
A quick phone call to some local gently used clothing shops yielded mostly ecstatic yeses when I asked whether or not gently used clothing was eligible for my state’s tax-free weekend event. Because gently used clothing is included, savvy shoppers can first shop the racks at a local thrift store before moving on to brick and mortar retail establishments to buy clothing they could not find in thrift stores.
TIP: To avoid any tax surprises at the register, call ahead to verify that the thrift store that you plan to shop at is participating. I called a Once Upon A Child in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and was told that they were not participating (that they could opt out and chose to do so), whereas the one in Manassas was participating with regard to clothing and shoe sales.
Don’t Forget to Bring Your Outgrown Clothing
Bear in mind that Plato’s Closet and Once Upon A Child accept gently used clothing for resale, so taking in your child’s outgrown clothing and toys can mean significant savings once you factor in the amount you are offered for them and apply that to your new purchase. Couple that with tax-free savings by shopping during the tax-free weekend in your state, and that could be just the bargain that fits snugly into your budget.
Clothing Swaps Also Help Save Money
Associated Content’s Tamara L. Waters offers good advice about organizing a clothing swap to stretch your budget. Now is the perfect time to gather your friends and pack up your child’s outgrown clothing to swap with friends.
When my daughter’s school friend stayed overnight recently, I sized her up and realized that my daughter’s outgrown jeans would fit her friend. Sending my child’s friend home with 10 pair of outgrown jeans means her mother won’t have to spend valuable money on those items when she does her own back-to-school shopping.
RBC Consumer Index Outlook press release, August 5, 2010
Telephone conversations with local Plato’s Closet, Goodwill and Once Upon a Child stores
Organize a Clothing Swap to Stretch Your Dollars, by Tamara L. Waters