Stores are going all out to pull you in the door for back-to-school shopping. That’s because every retailer wants a piece of the $83.8 billion that the National Retail Federation expects Americans will spend this season.
J.C. Penney is offering kids free haircuts, Microsoft is giving out a free Xbox if you buy a computer, and Abercrombie & Fitch is selling jeans for half-off their regular price.
Sound tempting? Put your armor on.
‘‘They’re trying to get you in the store and keep you in there and spend more money,’’ said Lauren Greutman, deal expert at coupon website Savings.com and founder of savings site IAmThatLady.com.
In order to actually save money, you need to focus on getting the deals and avoid getting sucked into buying stuff you don’t need.
Greutman suggests making a list of everything you need and sticking to it. Many schools post a supply list early.
Do some research before you head out shopping to see which retailers are offering deals. RetailMeNot, the coupon website, updates its site with back-to-school deals several times a day. If you have an iPhone, you can also download RetailMeNot’s free app to keep up with new deals while you’re out shopping .
To get you started, here is a selection of some of the better discounts big retailers are offering:
Clothing: Teen retailers are cutting prices on jeans. All of American Eagle Outfitter’s blue jeans are $29.99 for a limited time, as much as $20 off. At Abercrombie & Fitch, all jeans are $39 until Aug. 21. Usually they cost $70 to $90.
Kmart is taking 5 percent off of purchases that are put on layaway. But Kmart’s layaway plan costs $5. If you’re looking for school uniforms, Gap is offering 30 percent off until Aug. 29. Kmart is taking off 20 percent until Aug. 19.
Supplies: Walmart is pricing 100 items, ranging from lunch bags to notebooks, at 88 cents throughout August. Bring an old binder to Staples, and you will get $2 off a new one. Staples is also selling a discount card for $10 that will give you 15 percent off school supplies until Sept. 15. It’s only worth it if you expect to spend more than $70. But check the restrictions first: You can’t use it on pricier items like calculators.
Until Labor Day, Office Depot is selling select products for pocket change, like scissors for 8 cents.
Electronics: RadioShack is offering students 10 percent off on lower-priced electronics like power strips and calculators. The discount is available at about 1,000 stores near colleges.
When students buy a select Windows desktop or laptop computer from Dell, Hewlett Packard, or Samsung, they can get a free Xbox 360 game system. Students who buy an Apple Mac before Sept. 21 will get a $100 iTunes gift card . Buy an iPad and you’ll get a $50 gift card.