DENVER -- Any parent knows that back to school shopping is a yearly ritual whether you like or not.
Economic uncertainty, unemployment and a recent surge in gas prices are forcing parents to focus on necessities this school year, said Matthew Shay, chief executive of the National Retail Federation.
Still, families with school-aged children are expected to spend an average of $635 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics during this year's back-to-school shopping season, down from $688 last year, the industry trade group found.
Ashley Morris recently shopped for school supplies with her son, Jake, at the Walmart in Parker.
"I always get excited buying school supplies," Morris said. "I always make it a day where each kid gets to go by themselves. So for me its a great chance to spend time with them and see what things they like."
Morris has four kids in school so she’s always looking for the best back to school deal.
"I usually will watch the weekly circulars just to see who might have spiral notebooks that week that might be the cheapest," Morris said. "I do like to buy the cheaper or generic brand, but a lot of times teachers have specific brands. So if they ask for it, I'll get it, but otherwise I make him get the discount one."
We went shopping with Morris and Jake using his 5th grade list from his Douglas County school. We went to three different stores to see how prices compared.
We bought generic brands when available and when name brands weren’t specifically requested by the teacher.
We ended up needed 20 items total. These are the final totals before tax:
King Soopers: $48.81 (with King Soopers discount card)
Walmart and King Soopers came in much cheaper on our shopping trip than Target but remember, prices change every day and items vary by list so your findings may be much different. It pays to check the weekly ads before you shop.
There is also another option for some schools called EduKit.
You pay one price and all of your supplies are on your child’s desk on the first day of class. The service offers convenience, but isn't for everyone.
We couldn’t compare the price in this case because there is no EduKit available for Jake’s 5th grade class.
Only some schools participate in the EduKit program.AlertMe