It’s sweltering hot, the mosquitos are eyeing up your ankles, and fall semester is right around the corner. If you’re looking for the best stores for back-to-school shopping, we’ve got you covered — because this year, heading back to campus may come with a bit more butterflies.
You may be readjusting from remote learning to in-person schooling, moving into a new dorm room (or your first-ever dorm room!), and keeping an eye out for that registration deadline so you can secure the right credits. All this to say, there’s plenty on your plate as we close out summer.
The good news is, whether you’re looking for a new laptop, a cozy hoodie, or simply to spice up your space with dorm décor, you can get almost everything you need online. And, to help you tackle the endless options, we’ve rounded up all of the need-now supplies from our favorite retailers. Ahead, find the best stores for back-to-school shopping so you can start checking one more thing off of your to-do list.
Best Online Stores for Back-to-School Shopping: Lifestyle
Whether IRL or online, you will never leave Target empty-handed. It doesn’t matter if you’re after dorm room essentials or basics that’ll last you past college — chances are you’ll find everything you need to get through the year without breaking the bank.
Urban Outfitters’ home and lifestyle section is not for the faint of heart. No matter your style or budget, you will (we repeat: you will) wind up with more than you bargained for in your cart. Pro tip: Urban has so many markdowns throughout the year, we suggest filtering first for items on sale to score something that’ll keep your wallet happy.
If you don’t want to show up with all the same things as your roomie, consider Etsy for one-of-a-kind decor pieces. There are so many unique items, from funky candles to fluffy (yes, fluffy) mirrors, you’re bound to find something that’ll double as a conversation starter.
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, Walmart is our top choice. You’ll score savings on everything from school supplies to bedding at prices you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
Just need the essentials? Head to Bed, Bath, & Beyond for helpful back-to-school finds without the frills. Think sheets, comforters, shower caddies, and towels that get the job done.
Best Online Stores for Back-to-School Shopping: School Supplies
You don’t need us to tell you that Amazon is the go-to website for back-to-school shopping. No, you can’t actually smell the brand new notebooks, test the zippers on backpacks, or tap away at a keyboard before buying — but if you’re a Prime member, Amazon makes it incredibly easy to order all of your supplies, and return anything that isn’t meshing.
There are so many cute school supplies on Etsy that you won’t find anywhere else. If you’ve got the nostalgia bug, look no further; think of these picks as Lisa Frank for college students.
A classic for a reason! Pencil sharpeners, pink erasers, perfectly-sharpened pencils — the gang’s all here.
We’ll let the pictures do the talking, but for squeal-worthy note-taking supplies, Urban Outfitters should be stop #1 on your virtual shopping trip. Consider yourself warned: Classmates will want to borrow from you all day long.
Muji is a Japanese label trusted for all-things-home and lifestyle. We love the simplicity of the brand’s aesthetic and the value you get no matter what you add to cart.
Best Online Stores for Back-to-School Shopping: Beauty
You need to rotate your makeup on a regular basis to avoid germs from building up, and Ulta is an excellent place to restock. There are so many value packs and sample sizes that you can feel free to try something new or double down on a holy grail item — either way, you’ll probably be getting it for less!
Dermstore is a great place to discover new favorites. On our list for the new year? Tarte’s In Bloom eye shadow clay palette because neutral colors will always look good. Another pick? R+Co’s Cool Wind Air Dry Creme for those days when you took a bit (okay, maybe a little more than a bit) too long showering post-workout and have to be in class in ten.
If you’re like us, your Sephora cart is always filled to the brim with makeup, skin care, and hair care you just haven’t brought yourself to buy. Luckily, heading back to school is the perfect excuse to actually checkout on all those products you’ve been eyeing since you probably don’t have everything you need at school.
Ultralip, Balm Dotcom, Boy Brow… the list really does go on. In case you didn’t already know, Glossier’s all-time favorite makeup and skin care products are worth the hype. The new school year is a great opportunity to stock up on old faves or finally get your hands on some newer drops (like the Solar Paint).
Best Online Stores for Back-to-School Shopping: Electronics
Make sure you have all the necessary tech to start the school year on the right foot. Some of the top picks for a new school year include a new laptop, a pair of wireless headphones for noise-free study sessions, and a printer to make sure you hand in all those papers you spent hours on deadline.
Target has all of the big brands you think of when it comes to back-to-school tech: Samsung, Fitbit, Apple, Sony, and more. The best part is you may be able to snag products from those brands for less than you’d find if you shopped them directly. Our picks this year are Apple EarPods and a Tile to throw in — and keep track of — your backpack, gym bag, wallet, or purse.
Nobody does tech like Best Buy, so if you are looking to upgrade your old favorites, it should be the place to monitor. For uninterrupted phone calls, TV, or reading sessions, opt for the Apple Airpods Pro. Looking to jam to your favorite tunes? Try this JBL portable speaker, which you can take virtually anywhere.
Walmart is also a top choice to score tech items on a budget. (The HP DeskJet printer below comes with 6 months of ink, for example) We love a good all-around store to keep shipping to a minimum.
Best Online Stores for Back-to-School Shopping: Fashion
You may think of Lulus for summer-ready clothing, like maxi or sundresses, but don’t sleep on the brand for its fall-friendly options. We love keeping a headscarf on hand for days when you woke up way too late (or if the walk to class was more humid than you planned), and sign us up for ten of these basic black long sleeves that’ll go with absolutely anything.
Abercrombie & Fitch became cool again (we investigated why that is, exactly, if you want to learn more) and is at the top of our list for cute back-to-school outfits. You can shop basics below, but if you wait a few weeks, you can checkout with a cozy knit sweater too.
What can’t you get on Amazon? From a new pair of jeans to a set of TikTok-viral earrings, the online retailer has it all.
Comfortable, cute, and casual — the ideal back-to-school wardrobe. Free People is definitely not the cheapest of the bunch, so we suggest saving your coin on items that are investment pieces, like these Dr. Martens boots and this wear-anywhere jacket.
Trust us, nothing keeps you calm and collected on those will-I-won’t-I get my period days quite like menstruation underwear. Thinx has a ton of options, from thongs to bikinis, and even sleep shorts that may actually help you get those 8 hours (despite drowning in sweat).
You don’t need new clothes to feel fresh on day one. Jewelry will put a pep in your step no matter what you’re wearing. Mejuri is one of our absolute favorites for stocking up on high-quality gold jewelry at a more attainable price.
Looking for basics that will last you longer than a few seasons? Head to Everlane. Snag some white tees and sweaters you’ve had on your wishlist or upgrade those timeless pieces that you’ve completely worn out.
Chances are you’ve spotted Alo Yoga on celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, and Gigi Hadid. Its chic activewear and athleisure pieces have become a favorite of many because they’re cute, comfortable, and functional — whether you wear them to the gym or not.
If you’re looking to hop on the latest trends without making your credit card sweat, bookmark ASOS. Aside from its own collection, the site is also stocked with a ton of incredible brands like Free People, Levi’s, Dr. Martens, and more. Basically, it’s one-stop shopping for all the clothing, accessories, and shoes that you could possibly need to get through the school year.
With the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (a.k.a. one of the best sales of the year) underway, now is the time to stock up on all the nice things you’ve been eyeing. Refresh your fall wardrobe with staples like this balloon-sleeve sweater or faux-leather leggings. There are also so many shoes available at discounted prices — from a gorgeous pair of boots to classic white sneakers and even UGG slippers.
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