School's back in session, but the sales have just begun

School's back in session, but the sales have just begunThe kids are officially back in school and supplies have been bought, but if you're like most families this year, the shopping list was short. Necessities only was the mantra of the day and that's left retailers with excess inventory that needs to be cleared. Welcome to the new back to school sale, one that happens in September when deals used to be few and far between.

Back to school sales results at retailers fell a bit short than what was hoped for, according to MasterCard Spending Pulse, which pulls data from more than just credit card sales, and estimates for purchases made by cash and check. While sales did tick up slightly over last year, they still fell far short of the 2008 back to school season, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. This, coupled with Gallup Poll data that shows consumers are spending roughly the same as last year, indicates our shopping habits are still curtailed.

Nevermind the economic indications: fewer purchases of back to school items in August mean more items to clear out in September before winter and holiday items need to be put out. If you held off on things like apparel, shoes and accessories, now is a good time to get a deal on fall goods. Sales won't be as extensive in the consumer electronics category, where back to school spending was more robust, but a new pair of shoes are easier to find on sale than they are to win at the craps table.

Kohl's has dozens of shoes for juniors and kids on sale for up to 50% off and the mens' selection has even deeper discounts. Target and Kmart are boasting big sales on apparel, backpacks and accessories that didn't sell during the traditional back to school rush, and department stores like Macy's have slashed prices up to 50% on everything from workwear to handbags.

Retailers that cater to the teen market are especially hard hit these days as teenagers have decidedly less disposable income than in the past. Look for deep discounts at places like Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and Hot Topic. Deep discounting should continue well into Fall. Bad for retailers, but not so much for shoppers looking for deals.
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