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Best August sales: Discounts on supplies for school and the office, outdoor items and more

With inflation continuing to impact Americans this month, shoppers should also look to bundles and bulk offerings for much-needed discounts.
Illustration of OXO container, kids running into school, Under the Bed Storage Bin On Wheels and an Amazon Echo
This month, back-to-school sales take center stage, but some dark-horse categories — like musical instruments — will also be on sale.Vivian Le for NBC News; Dormify ; Bed Bath and Beyond ; Inside Creative House / Getty Images

Select is editorially independent. Our editors selected these deals and items because we think you will enjoy them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time.

In many places, August heralds the end of summer and the beginning of the school year for students and parents alike, which means end-of-season sales on outdoor items and office supplies from a wide range of stores. The retail landscape is also changing significantly: While Walmart’s been slashing prices to clear out excess inventory, we’ve also seen price increases due to inflation. And though most surveyed Americans think a recession is likely within the next year, the National Retail Federation reports they’re still spending money.

SKIP AHEAD Best August deals | What to buy in August | What to skip in August

With big words like “inflation” and “recession” at the top of mind, shoppers should think smartly about their purchases. “Bundling items and buying in bulk can certainly be a smart money-saving tactic for bigger families or groups of friends that divvy up items, from value packs and 2-for-1 promos,” said Vipin Porwal, consumer savings expert and founder of cashback browser extension Smarty. While some Americans are still shopping, others may opt to reuse backpacks or wait until holiday sales to buy new technology, thanks to inflated prices, Porwal said. He predicted those that do shop will be creative with how they take advantage of deals this month.

With that in mind, you — like many shoppers — may be hunting for deals, bulk sales and discounts before making a purchase. To give you an idea of the best sales and discounts during the month ahead, we consulted retail experts on what sales and items are worth considering, as well as what’s not worth shopping for right now (if you can wait).

Best August sales

We chose the sales below because we think you’ll find them interesting — they typically include multiple deals and, of course, not every single product in a sale will be the best deal around.

Best August deals

We rounded up the best ongoing deals on highly rated products Select readers have shown an interest in or that we think you should know about. We relied on price tracking tools like Honey and CamelCamelCamel to note the value of each discount.

Dormify Under the Bed Storage Bin on Wheels

Under-bed storage is a dorm essential and we’ve recommended this Dormify option (with wheels) at full price before. The rolling storage bin is 24-inches long, 15-inches wide and 8.5-inches high with a transparent top so you can easily see whatever you’ve stored inside. It zips open and shut, too. The storage piece has handles on its sides so you can easily maneuver it (in and out from) under your bed.

OXO Good Grips Smart Seal 16-Piece Glass Container Food Storage Set

OXO’s glass containers are some of our favorite meal prep containers, and this 16-piece set comes with differently-sized round and rectangular containers to easily hold whatever you’re storing. OXO says they’re microwave-, oven-, freezer- and dishwasher-safe. The brand also says the glass containers easily stack for compact storage.

Amazon Echo 8 Smart Display with Alexa

This Echo 8 is available at Best Buy for its lowest price ever. With Alexa, the smart device can play music or stream podcasts, as well as control compatible devices like lights or smart thermostats. You can also use the Echo 8 to video chat with friends and family who have the Alexa app (or a compatible Echo device). The Echo 8 also turns into a digital picture frame with Amazon Photos.

What to buy in August

August should be about upgrading the whole family — even as sales target students — according to Porwal. Experienced shoppers know there are big savings during Back to School and end-of-season sales this month, he said, which include deals on school supplies but also home items. These deals may include traditional school supplies like backpacks and pens, or technology like tablets and laptops for student usage. Traditionally, dorm décor and necessities like pillows, shower curtains, and trash cans go on sale around this time of year, too.

Porwal also noted there are some “savings opportunities that get overlooked” around this time. He said to anticipate “deep discounting” on dark-horse categories like musical instruments, prescription eyewear and exams and home and office technology like printers, computer monitors, software packages, and internet networking gear.

End-of-season deals have historically included discounts on outdoor equipment like tents, grills, hammocks, and camping chairs, as well as patio furniture. During the last week in August, Porwal advised, shoppers will likely see pre-Labor Day sales, with discounts up to 50% off sporting and outdoor items, swimwear and yard supplies, as well as other seasonal outdoor items.

What to skip in August

If you’re looking for video game consoles, TVs and other electronics, Porwal suggested waiting until early Black Friday deals, “when nearly every retailer features these items at their lowest prices.”

Additionally, Porwal mentioned that jeans and denim products may be discounted this month but should be at lower prices as the seasons change.

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