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Back-to-College Essentials: Where to Find the Best Deals

September 1st always meant one thing in Boston: trafficmageddon. All of the college kids would start moving back in and getting ready to start classes soon. All the moving vans and lost freshmen caused snarls that would tie up traffic for hours. As I saw the Facebook feeds of my friends being stuck in traffic that turned 15-minute commutes into 90-minute nightmares, I was reminded of all the craziness that prepping to go back to classes entailed.

This preparation to go back to college after the summer could be a daunting and expensive task between buying textbooks and outfitting dorm rooms. I decided to take a look and see what prepping for college looks like today, versus the <deleted> number of years ago that I attended.

Back-to-school retail sales are anticipated to grow 2.6% this year and almost two-thirds (64%) of U.S. consumers say they will shop online for some school supplies this year. Even parents of new college freshmen say they anticipate spending more than $1,300 per child, and most of that budget will be spent on tech purchases.

That’s quite a bit more than I spent <deleted> number of years ago, and it doesn’t even count textbooks! Given how much Americans plan to spend on back-to-school shopping this year, I tapped into data from the Indix Product API to determine how to get the best deals on some of the most common college essentials (in case you haven’t finished your shopping yet). The data had interesting things to say.

Laptops

Within the Indix Product Information Marketplace, there are almost 5,000 in-stock laptops from more than 35 brands. Nearly half of those laptops (45%) cost less than $1,000, which is ideal for students and parents shopping on a budget. The top five brands in terms of product availability are Lenovo, HP, Dell, Asus, and Acer. Of these brands, Lenovo tends to be the most expensive, and Acer is the most cost effective.

Mini Fridges

Our data pull found 531 in-stock mini fridges across 25 different brands, and while the current U.S market carries more than 10,000 refrigerators, mini fridges only make up about 5% of the mix. When shopping for a mini fridge, remember that the brand MicroFridge carries more expensive products compared to Avanti and Danby, two brands with more budget-friendly options. And the best place to find a mini fridge? Our research shows that Amazon, The Home Depot, Sears, Walmart, and Rakuten are the top retailers.

Desk Lamps

Need a light for late-night study sessions? There are currently 2,640 in-stock desk lamps in the Indix Data Marketplace from more than 66 brands, and more than half of those (54%) are LED lights. Lite Source is the leading brand for desk lamps with the most amount of products available at two major retailers, Lighting Direct and Build.com.

Shower Caddies

Want to know where you can find the best deal on a shower caddy? There are more than 600 in-stock shower caddies across 22 brands online. A majority of the products are priced between $5 and $20. If you’re spending more than that, you should consider whether or not you’re actually getting more bang for your buck. The top five retailers for a shower caddy are Amazon, Sears, Comfortmarket.com, AliExpress, and Walmart.

Storage Bins/Baskets

Dorm living means close quarters, and making sure you have enough storage for your things is essential. We found nearly 12,000 in-stock storage bins/baskets sold across 337 online stores. Most manufacturers of these products don’t have specific brand names, but the top three brands are IRIS, Colonial Mills, and Rubbermaid. The brand Riverridge Kids carries more lower-priced products – 78% of their assortment costs less than $20.

Hopefully, this is information that helps out anyone who (like I always did) put off back-to-college shopping until it was absolutely necessary. Predictably, online marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, Aliexpress, and Rakuten offer a range of assortment and choices. Knowing the price ranges and brands will help parents and students save some serious cash. Unfortunately, it still won’t fix trafficmaggedon, so I’d suggest that my friends in Boston work from home on September 1st next year.

Check out our deck below for more fun with data.

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