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Back to school sales 2022 — best early deals and what to expect

Back to school sales
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Back to school sales are starting early this year. Inflation, stock shortages, and shipping delays are causing retailers to get an early start on their back to school sales for 2022. 

Although we're typically wary of early deals, this year things are a little different. Apple's 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, for instance, are seeing shipping delays that stretch well into August. Covid lockdowns throughout China are also causing shipping delays on everything from monitors to gaming rigs. 

As a result, we're recommending consumers start their back to school shopping early this year. While the best back to school sales are usually offered in July, if you're shopping for a particular device your best bet is to secure it on sale early and avoid any potential shipping delays. 

Below we're rounding up the best back to school deals on everything from Chromebooks to dorm-friendly coffee machines. So whether you're shopping for a new laptop or your first mattress, here are today's best early back to school sales. 

Early back to school sales

Laptops

Gateway 14" Laptop: was $449 now $399 @ Walmart (opens in new tab)
Small but mighty, the 14-inch Gateway GWTN141-4RG offers a surprising amount of power. It houses a 14.1-inch 1080p IPS LCD, Core i5-1035G1 CPU, 16GB RAM, and 256GB of storage. It also has Tuned by THX Audio and built-in Cortana, to make it one of the best cheap deals you'll find.

HP Pavilion 15t: was $899 now $499 @ HP (opens in new tab)
Back to school sales have started at HP and the Pavilion 15t is one of the most affordable laptops in the manufacturer's ongoing sale. It packs a 15.6-inch 1366 x 768 LCD, Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. We recommend upgrading to the 15.6-inch 1080p IPS display for +$10 during checkout. 

Dell XPS 13: was $832 now $783 @ Dell (opens in new tab)
The XPS 13 is the best Windows laptop you can buy. This configuration packs a 13.3-inch 1080p InfinityEdge display, Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Use coupon "50OFF699" during the final checkout stage to drop its price to $783.99. It's one of the lowest prices we've seen all year.

MacBooks

MacBook Pro 13" (M2/256GB): for $1,299 @ Best Buy (opens in new tab)
Coming soon: This isn't a back to school sale per se, but Best Buy is taking preorders of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro. The new machine sports a 13.3-inch Retina display (2560 x 1600), Apple's new M2 CPU w/ 10 core GPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. It keeps the same starting price as before, but we'd recommend waiting a few days for the first price cuts, which could take $50 off. 

MacBook Air (M1/256GB): was $999 now $899 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
The MacBook Air offers fantastic performance thanks to its Apple Silicon. The M1 CPU also helped it reach over 14 hours on our battery test. It features a 13.3-inch Retina display, Apple M1 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. It's been cheaper (it hit $749 last summer), but it's still a solid deal at $899. 

MacBook Pro 13" (M1/256GB): was $1,299 now $1,198 @ B&H Photo (opens in new tab)
The MacBook Pro with Apple's M1 chip delivers performance that runs circles around Windows laptops, and you get a brighter display than the MacBook Air and beefier 8-core graphics. Even better, the system lasted over 16 hours in our battery test. 

Mac/iPad: up to $150 free gift card @ Apple (opens in new tab)
Back to school season is here! Students and educators who purchase an eligible Mac will get up to a $150 gift card for free. Alternatively, purchase select iPads and you'll get a $100 gift card. The gift card can be spent on anything at the Apple Store and it's in addition to Apple's educational discounts, which take up to $100 off select Macs and iPads.

Bluetooth Speakers

JBL GO2: was $48 now $28 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
The JBL GO2 is one of the best cheap Bluetooth speakers you'll find. The speaker is IPX7 waterproof and can last for up to 5 hours on a single charge. A must-have tech accessory for any dorm room, it's one of the best back to school sales you'll find.  

OontZ Angle 3: was $59 now $39 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
For its price, you won't find a better performing Bluetooth speaker than the OontZ Angle 3. It produces bright, clear vocals and crisp treble, and it even delivers a bit of bass. It's IPX5 weather resistance means it can take a splash of rain (just make sure not to dunk it in a pool). 

UE Wonderboom 2: was $99 now $83 @ Best Buy (opens in new tab)
The UE Wonderboom 2 portable Bluetooth speaker is IP67 waterproof and delivers up to 13 hours of rich 360 degree sound. In our UE Wonderboom 2 review (opens in new tab), we said the Editor's Choice speaker delivers good bass and vocals in a highly portable package. 

Tribit StormBox Micro Bluetooth speaker: was $59 now $42 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
The Tribit StormBox Micro proves that big things can come in small packages. It boasts solid sound, weighty bass, IP67 waterproofing and a tear-resistant silicone strap for attaching the device to your backpack. It's the ideal portable speaker for taking just about anywhere on campus and can even power your dorm room parties. It's currently $42 in this epic deal that is running at Amazon. 

Tablets

10.2" iPad (64GB/2021): was $329 now $309 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
The 2021 iPad features Apple's A13 Bionic CPU, a new 12MP front camera, and 64GB of storage (instead of 32GB like its predecessor). You also get support for Center Stage, which uses machine learning to adjust the front-facing camera during FaceTime video calls. Deals on this base model are rare, so snatch this up while you can. The 256GB model is also on sale for $429 (opens in new tab) ($50 off). 

8.3" iPad mini (64GB/2021): was $499 now $474 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
The 2021 iPad mini features an all new thin-bezel design, a larger 8.3.inch Liquid Retina display, A15 Bionic CPU, 12MP wide camera, and USB-C connectivity. It also works with the Apple Pencil 2. It's now $25 off, but keep in mind it's dropped to $399 in the past. 

Bose SoundLink Revolve: was $199 now $179 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
The original SoundLink Revolve is well-suited for any room, even without the carry handle of the $279 SoundLink Revolve Plus. It also offers IPX4-rated water resistance, as well as 360-degree sound, and can connect to another SoundLink speaker to create a stereo pair.

Cord Cutting

Sling TV: 50% off first month @ Sling (opens in new tab)
Sling TV is an affordable live TV service that offers flexibility and lots of customization. For a limited time, new Sling subscribers get 50% off their first month. You can sign up for Sling Orange ($35/month) or Sling Blue ($35/month) — or a combination of both packages ($50/month). After discount, prices for the first month are $17.50 and $25, respectively. 

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite: was $29 now $19 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
The Fire TV Stick Lite is a cheaper version of the Fire TV 4K Stick. This 1080p streamer supports HDR, HDR 10, HDR10+, and HLG, but it lacks Dolby Atmos Audio and dedicated volume/power buttons. Otherwise, this streamer is your best pick if you're looking for a cheap option. 

Fire TV Stick 4K: was $49 now $34 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
The Fire TV Stick 4K is one of the best streaming devices available, offering 4K Ultra HD streaming at 60fps with HDR support and including an Alexa Voice Remote. Right now it's $15 off in this early back to school sale, but note that we expect further drops in the next few weeks; it's been as low as $24 in the past.

Roku Express 4K Plus 2021: was $39 now $29 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
A major upgrade over the Roku Premiere, the Roku Express 4K Plus is the cheapest 4K device right now. It's a must for any college dorm room and one of the better back to school sales we've seen for a Roku 2021 device. 

Apple TV 4K 2021: was $179 now $169 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
If you live in the Apple ecosystem, you know how rare deals like this are. Yes, even $10 off the Apple TV 4K (32GB) is surprising to see, so act fast on this back to school sale while it's in stock. 

Backpacks

Mancro Laptop Backpack: was $29 now $23 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
The Mancro Laptop Backpack has over 10 compartments, one of which can house a 15-inch laptop. It also has a combination zipper lock, which ensures no one will open your laptop bag and steal its contents when you're not looking. Click the on-page coupon to drop its price to $23. 

Matein Laptop Backpack: was $41 now $29 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
Don't let its cheap price fool you. The Matein Laptop Backpack is one of the coolest laptop bags on the market. The 27-liter bag features a padded laptop sleeve that fits up to a 17-inch laptop. It also has a USB-charging port, which connects to a battery backup in the bag that lets you charge your devices without having to open your backpack. (Battery not included). 

Backpack sale: up to 55% off @ Macy's (opens in new tab)
Macy's is taking up to 55% off select backpacks during its early back to school sales kick-off. The sale includes backpacks from Nine West, DKNY, Kipling, Michael by Michael Kors, Vera Bradley, and more. 

When do back to school sales begin

Back to school sales begin in early July and run through early September. Unlike Labor Day or Memorial Day, which last a few days, the back to school season lasts for multiple weeks. However, keep in mind that some of the best sales tend to occur mid-July. By the time September begins, most of the highly sought after deals have expired or simply gone out of stock.

Where are the best back to school sales

Laptops, Bluetooth speakers, Chromebooks, and tablets are among the best back to school sales you'll find during the back to school season. Some of our favorite laptops, such as the MacBook Air M1, are already seeing price cuts of up to $100. Meanwhile, stores like Walmart and Wayfair are slashing the price of various dorm room essentials like coffee makers, cheap bedding sets, and more. 

What should I buy for back to school supplies

Some of the most popular back to school supplies include arts and crafts materials (for younger students) and laptops or headphones for high school or college bound students. College bound students may also be interested in dorm room supplies like storage containers, bedding sets, office chairs, and desk lamps. Most students will also require a laptop bag or backpack. Make sure to check out our best backpacks for college guide for the best sales and picks.  

As deals editor at Tom’s Guide, Louis is constantly looking for ways to avoid paying full price for the latest gadgets. With over 10 years of deals-hunting experience, Louis price checks against multiple retailers and searches high and low for the best deals to bring readers. A born-and-bred New Yorker, Louis is also an avid swimmer and marathoner. His work has appeared on Gizmodo, CNET, and Time Out New York.