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BBB tips for Back-to-school return. Virginia’s sales-tax holiday is August 6-8

From the Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia:

As families prepare for the upcoming school year, National Retail Federation (NRF) studies indicate back-to-school spending leans towards the need for new outfits. Half (49%) of parents with school-aged children say their kids are most excited to shop for apparel this year, up from 42 percent last year.

Planning ahead and setting a budget will help keep expenses to a minimum and help everyone involved stay on task.

Virginia’s Sales Tax Holiday will take place August 6-8, 2021.

BBB recommends the following tips when looking for school related items, either in person or online:

In person shopping

Retailers are eager for shoppers to come back but with restrictions. Mask mandates, social distancing, hand sanitizer, and other precautions may still be in place for some locations, as well as restrictions for those who have not been vaccinated. When trying on the latest fall fashions, contact the retailer ahead of time for their requirements. Consider following CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting items upon arriving home.

Research big ticket items

Check with your child’s school to find out their technology requirements, and determine if there are any changes necessary to the home’s high-speed internet. According to NRF, 63 percent of consumers expect at least some school and college classes will take place online this year, up from 55 percent when the original survey was conducted in July 2020.

Before purchasing an expensive laptop, tablet or other computer accessory, research the brands, warranty, customer reviews and the prices at various stores to make certain the best deal can be had. Also, look up the retailer’s reputation on

Shop smart with sales and tax-free weekends

Compare prices between different retail stores, save coupons, sign up for email alerts and redeem any cash-back or rebate offers. This will help get the best deals and stay within budget. Also, your state may have a tax-free weekend, enabling you to buy clothes, school supplies and other items without paying sales tax. To see what your state offers, check out this resource from the Federation of Tax Administrators.

Ask for discounts

Many stores and software companies offer discounts. Some of them are available to students that have either an .edu email address or a student ID. Others may have a discount for signing up for marketing materials, or surf the internet for online coupons and discounts (make certain they are affiliated with the retailer). Even if you don’t see a discount advertised at the store, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Consider buying in bulk

If meeting in person, some teachers may ask parents to buy bulk items (paper towels, tissues, wipes, hand sanitizer) for the entire classroom to use throughout the year. Compare lists with other parents and see if costs can be shared.

Shop wisely, safely online

When shopping online, be wary of “click bait” ads that feature items that imply that you may want or need it based on the search history. Scammers could be trying to drive you to a different website to potentially steal personal information. Take note of the ad and go to the store’s website by directly typing into the search bar. Make note of the website’s privacy policy, contact information, and always use a credit card when making a purchase.

Stay safe and happy shopping.

Sign up for BBB Scam Alerts.

About BBB: BBB serving Central Virginia serves Richmond, the Tri-Cities, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg, as well as 42 surrounding counties from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest, and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of BBB include business profiles, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, scam warnings, consumer and business education, and charity review.


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