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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — It’s the second biggest retail push of the year, behind the holiday shopping season.

Back-to-school spending is forecast to be about 20 percent more than last year, with consumers expected to spend about 83.8 billion dollars, according to the Retail Federation of America.

And Sunny Isle’s mom, Gina Virreria, is wasting little time looking for the best back-to-school deals for her two daughters.

She explains: “Things are tighter economically but you have to put priority and if school is a priority you cut back on other things and you put school as a priority and you get things that you need for your child so that they start off the school year well.”

Families are expected to spend about $688 on average during this back-to-school season, up from last year.

Carol Bernstein has been in the back-to-school supply business for about 30 years. She is based out of her “Get Smart” store in Pinecrest.

She is noticing improved spending this year and adds: “It keeps just getting better and better. Parents aren’t going to stop taking care of their children. That’s the last thing that they’re going to cut.”

So where are the best deals on back-to-school clothes?

Lindsey Sakraida of has crunched the latest numbers and found “We’ve actually seen The Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy as well as Aeropostale offer some really great stocking coupons.”

What about other supplies like pencils, paper and backpacks?

She found “Staples almost always has some sort of item that is free after rebate that will have several of them even after a few pennies. We also saw them offer some really good discounts on backpacks for under ten dollars.”

Starting Friday, Florida kicks off its three-day tax-free back-to-school holiday.

There are no overall spending limits. However, tax exemptions are only allowed on approved clothing and shoes under $75 each..with a $15 limit on individual supplies.

Again, there is no limit on how much you can spend.

So where are the best deals: online or at local stores?

Extra shipping charges can add up quickly online, and a growing number of stores are now matching online prices.

So if you find a great deal, print it out and see if you can get it matched locally.

These tips will help keep costs down on many back-to-school essentials: 

Accumulate extra rewards and save time by shopping online

  • This back-to-school season, a smart idea is to shop through an exclusive shopping portal that allows consumers to earn 5 – 20% cash back on their purchases. Discover’s exclusive shopping portal, ShopDiscover, offers extra cash back rewards at over 200 online retailers. This is a great way to deck out your dorm room, fill up your back pack and upgrade your wardrobe while saving on back-to-school essentials.
  • From July 19 – September 5, 2012, cardmembers can enjoy extra savings on back-to-school purchases made through ShopDiscover at top retailers including:
  • – 10% Cashback Bonus (up from 5%)
  • The Container Store – 10% Cashback Bonus (up from 5%)
  • – 20% Cashback Bonus (up from 15%)

Shop on Back-to-School Saturday to get the best deals

  • Back-to-School Saturday has been designated as August 11th by the website, Teen Vogue. Take advantage of  these day-only sales happening at your favorite retailers, in-store and online.
  • American Eagle is offering all jeans on sale, plus get 50% off any top with an AE Jeans purchase with promo code 17144921 online.*
  • Gap is offering 30% off any online and in-store purchases from August 8 – August 12.*
  • Guess is offering 20% off with the promo code GTEENV at any online or in-store purchase.*
  • Kohl’s is offering 20% any in-store or online Kohl’s purchase.*

*Through ShopDiscover, cardmembers will get an additional 10% Cashback Bonus. For a complete list of merchants offering 5-20% Cashback Bonus, visit

>> For more info:

Full list of Back-To-School Saturday deals

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