PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The start of August means back to school is around the corner, and experts say now is the time to start shopping for supplies.
As consumers deal with rising costs due to inflation, economists say you need to give yourself time to find the best deals on your kids' lists.
Those back-to-school lists are long and expensive. Experts say if you want to save money on supplies, you need to start shopping now and give yourself time to find the best deals.
"Every year the list gets bigger and bigger," said Christina Tokarski, a parent in the School District of Philadelphia.
With new clothes, shoes, and calculators to buy for her kids, Tokarski knows she's about to shell out a lot of cash.
She brought her family to the Back-to-School Bus Tour, which began Monday in Bridesburg, to get free supplies.
"I got a new bookbag and it's my favorite color, and I got a ruler and I've never had a ruler," said Aubree Wible, who's going into 3rd grade.
At the event, the school district filled up free backpacks for families who need help.
"We know that getting back to school, especially after summer, can be overwhelming and we just want to take some of that burden off," said Adam Northam, the district's director of internal communications.
Back-to-school items are not immune to inflation. The Action News Data Journalism team says educational books and supplies are up 3.7% this year and tuition costs are up 3.1% for elementary and high schools too.
"It's hard to miss and it's taking a bite out of more people, more consumers," said Swee-Lim Chia, an associate professor of marketing at La Salle University.
He says consumers need to shop smarter this year.
Swee-Lim Chia suggests people time their purchases around sales, consider different brands and compare costs between stores before settling on a purchase.
"Look for the sales, look for the discounts, look for the coupons. And a lot of stores are very aggressive, obviously, so being smart, doing your homework," he said.
The hundreds of families who lined up for the giveaway in Bridesburg can already check a few items off the list.
"Even if it's just one pencil case and a folder, it helps a lot," said Tokarski.
Shoppers in New Jersey looking to save a few bucks will catch a break. The state is waiving sales tax on all back-to-school supplies from August 27 to September 5.