Here in New York, we’re into our fourth heat wave of the summer, and nothing could seem more distant than going back to school. Not so for retailers and shoppers, however. The back-to-school sales period is getting earlier every year, but that’s because schools are opening earlier than previously. Some states begin the school year in the middle of August. According to retailers and manufacturers, the last week of July is one of the biggest weeks for school sales.

There are some toys sold during this period—lots of learning toys for example are sold for kids who are too young for school, and many kids like to have a hot collectible in their backpacks.

But the real momentum is in merchandise like markers, school supplies and other items on “the list,” that shopping list sent out by virtually every school requiring kids to be equipped for back to school.

And that includes the hottest characters for the year. These aren’t merely practical accessories, they’re fashion statements, so you’ll see hot brands like Monster High, Star Wars (always), Angry Birds, Barbie and Thomas the Tank Engine—all hugely popular depending on the individual kids. You can check out all our picks for great Back to School items here.

Now, we don’t like rushing seasons any more than you probably like feeling rushed, but there’s one good reason why you may want to start at least thinking about Back to School: Things sell out. The last thing you want is to find out a week before class starts that the backpack your kids had his or her heart set on is nowhere to be found.

So, check out what we’ve found, and perhaps take a break to make sure you won’t be disappointed, and then get back out there and enjoy the summer, knowing that at least one thing can be crossed off your list with no stress.


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