The Worst Day for Back-to-School Shopping Is ...

Shoppers at the JCPenney store in New York participate in a Paul Frank and Julius back-to-school promotion
Shoppers at the JCPenney store in New York participate in a Paul Frank and Julius back-to-school promotion

If you don't like fighting with massive crowds at the mall, there are certain shopping days that you probably avoid at all costs during the holiday season: Black Friday, Super Saturday and Christmas Eve, for starters. But what's the worst day to shop during the back-to-school season?

Foursquare, the location-based social network, looked at which days the most people "checked in" to various stores during the traditional back-to-school season of August and early-September. Here are the days that saw the most check-ins in 2012:

  1. Aug. 18

  2. Aug. 11

  3. Aug. 4

  4. September 2

  5. Aug. 25

So there you have it: The worst day to do your back-to-school shopping is Aug. 18.

But that's not the whole story. See, those dates all fall on Sundays in 2013, but in 2012 those were all Saturdays. So the real conclusion we can draw here is that the busiest days for back-to-school shopping are Saturdays in August. Based on this data, we'd project that the real busiest shopping day this year will fall on Saturday, Aug. 17, followed by this coming Saturday, Aug. 10.

Does that mean you should do whatever it takes to avoid the stores on those days? Well, not necessarily.
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While we don't have exact traffic numbers, you shouldn't expect retailers to get nearly as busy as they do during the holidays. For reference, the National Retail Federation projects total back-to-school and back-to-college spending to come in around $72 billion; by contrast, total holiday spending exceeds a $500 billion. So while Aug. 17 is certainly going to be a busy day for parents shopping for school supplies and futons, it isn't exactly Black Friday.

Still, if your main objective is to avoid crowds, we'd suggest doing it on a weekday or a Sunday. And if your goal is to save money, get started now: As we learned last month, this is right around the time you can expect to get the best prices on clothes, furniture and computers.

Want to shop online? Search and compare prices easily on AOL Search:
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Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.