A Parent's Guide to End-of-Summer Sales

The end of summer isn’t just about getting in those last few warm-weather activities and scrambling to buy everything on your kids’ back-to-school supply lists. It’s also a time to take advantage of some great deals – that is, if you know where to look and what to buy.

Follow these tips to make sure you get some end-of-summer sales on the things you need for your family.

Outdoor toys

Think there’s no sense in installing a backyard play structure at the end of summer? Think again. An outdoor play set can range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars so try to catch a deal now if you’ll be in the market for one next year. The same goes for trampolines.

Kids Gotta Play in Wixom, for example, has several specials currently listed on its website.

Beyond the big-ticket items, also look for deals on bikes and helmets, scooters, outdoor ride-on toys, butterfly nets, bug catchers and sidewalk chalk.

Water toys

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Parents of young children can save big in this department. Kiddie pools, rafts, goggles and other swim accessories can be found everywhere from drugstores to large toy stores and these retailers usually offer deep discounts on water play items as the fall approaches. Also look for deals on water tables for toddlers (parents of infants, take note!), and the ever-popular water blasters.

Toiletries

Stock up now on sunscreen, aloe vera gel and bug spray. As long as they won’t expire before you use them, you’ll save money by buying these items now. Plus, you’ll be ready for your first beach trip next year.

Clothes for next year

If you have the storage space for some summer clothes for next year, consider buying the staples now in larger sizes while prices are reduced. Many retailers already have racks of discounted summer clothes for sale and items are likely to get further markdowns into the fall.

The best pieces to buy now for next year include T-shirts, shorts and dresses, says Diane Crawford, owner at upscale resale boutique Restyle Child in Birmingham. Discounted summer hair accessories are also a great buy, she says.

“Shorts and T-shirts are popular because you do not have to match the length for the arms or legs. Dresses are popular because even if they are a bit short the following year it is OK because they are frequently worn with capri leggings and bike shorts,” she says.

Restyle Child is offering a back-to-school special for August and September that gives customers $10 off $50 or more (sign up for the newsletter on their website to get the coupon).

“In addition, all new and summer resale is at least 50 percent off so it is a time when many moms fill in last minute needs or buy ahead for next summer,” Crawford says.

If you’re looking for discounted summer clothes at chain stores but finding a limited selection of sizes remaining, try checking your favorite brands online and using “search by size” tools for more options.

Home goods

Mom and dad can get some fun out of the end-of-summer savings, too. Not only will the home stores mark down kids’ items like pools and play structures, but you’ll also find deals on patio sets, outdoor fireplaces, lawn and garden gear and seasonal decor.

Travel

Looking to plan a last-minute getaway before the busy school schedule sets in? Travel deals are often offered from mid-August to September as destinations see a drop in the number of families traveling, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Deals are typically offered in locations such as Las Vegas, South Florida, North Carolina and the Caribbean, the publication reports.

Walt Disney World in Florida, for example, is currently advertising packages starting at $889 for a family of three for most stays between Aug. 16-Sept. 10.

Cars

Does your family need a new vehicle? According to Forbes, the end of summer is sometimes the best time to buy a car because manufacturers offer cash rebates, finance offers and other incentives to make room in dealerships for new models.

What not to buy

“Shoes are by far the hardest item to buy ahead because most children do not have feet that grow predictably,” Crawford says. “It is best to purchase shoes at the time you need them.”

Pants for later seasons are also difficult to buy in advance because the length has to be just right, she says.

Finding the deals

How will you know which stores have the best end-of-summer discounts? Crawford suggests signing up for your favorite retailers’ email lists or getting on the preferred customer lists at local stores.

“Most small businesses have a preferred customer list where they offer special deals through email and it is a good idea to get on that list,” Crawford says.

You should also check local publications and retailers’ Facebook pages for updates on deals and promotions. You can even find printable coupons.

“Big box stores also send emails promoting their deals and sometimes if you get on their email list you get a better deal than what is being promoted on their website,” she says.

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