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Early push for school supply sales

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Kroger has crayons for a quarter, Walmart's glue sticks are 40 cents, and Target's folders are 15 cents. We're used to these promotional prices a few weeks before Labor Day, but this year, back to school begins now. 

"The earlier we can back up these events and not just promote them but also give people some real tangible incentives to want to buy things early, that's a real winning combination for consumers, especially when they're trying to keep an eye on their pocketbooks," said Dr. David Urban with the VCU School of Business. 

Starting in August gives parents only a few weeks to buy the supplies, leading to a crush of shoppers -- all wanting the same products. 

When I shop for back to school supplies there's nothing more frustrating than finding a good deal, coming to the store only to find the shelves are cleared, yet another reason to start the sale early. 

"Consumers might say, well gee, if I don't take advantage of this now, it might not be there at the end," Urban said. 

A fact Staples has capitalized on in past years. They've built a loyal customer base offering supplies as cheap as a penny. 

"They know about this ad and they look forward to it, it's really a good time for teachers and students and parents to stock up on the things they need at a really, really good price," said Mary Gness, Staples General Manager. 

Plus it gives them a chance to reach a wider base of clientele. 

"A lot of families are on vacation right before they go back to school, so this gives them an opportunity if they want to come in a few weeks early," Gness said. 

Starting Sunday, paper for a penny at Office Max is a bargain hunter's dream. Dr. Urban says there's more to it than just saving money. 

"It's the most wonderful time of the year, we know that, people with children at home know that there is light at the end of the tunnel when they start seeing those back to school sales," Urban said.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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