The HP Pavilion dm4, left, the Sony Vaio, right, laptops and the Samsung NB30 netbook -- all great back to school PCs. But what gadgets does a college kid need? (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

On Sale in August: From Tools to Back-to-School

By Features

What's on Sale in August

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Even with the high cost of staying cool, August presents more than a few bargains for consumers.

You'll see deals on everything from barbecue mainstays to school supplies in August. Whether you're stocking up on classroom staples, outfitting a dorm room or throwing one last backyard bash, you can keep a little more green in your wallet.

August is also a great time to put some summer into your diet. Seasonal favorites, such as tomatoes, peaches, peppers and melons, start to hit their flavor peak this month.

Just like the weather, August throws a few curveballs, too -- with deals on a couple of things you might not necessarily expect. (Think tools and spa visits).

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Want to save a little money while you're keeping your cool this month? Here are at least 15 items on which you can find sales, deals and discounts in August.

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Back-to-School Supplies

Yes, more teachers. Yes, more books. And yes to all the rest of it, as school bells in some areas start ringing in August.

The good news for parents is that there are some bargains on school supplies and kids' clothes. But the timing of the sales and how long they last will vary, depending on where you live and the return-to-school dates in your area, says Daniel Butler, vice president of retail operations for the National Retail Federation.

You're likely to see special prices on things such as rulers, tablets, notebooks, pencils and other back-to-school basics, he says. While savings will vary, retailers are stocking up and offering "prices they don't normally have for amounts they don't normally have," he says. "But when they blow through them, they're gone."

Those prices may also extend to items on schools' wish lists that weren't included when today's parents were kids: everything from art supplies to hand sanitizer, he says.

In addition, clothing for local school uniforms (such as white dress shirts), "can be anywhere from 25 (percent) to 35% off," Butler says. And kids' socks and underwear will be discounted 25%, he says.

Back-to-College Items

In August, college shifts the back-to-school shopping into overdrive.

For the college crowd, discounts center on items to outfit a dorm room or apartment. But plenty of post-collegiate consumers use this as a time to score some good buys on housewares.

Towels and bedding will be "on sale for anywhere from 35 (percent) to 50% off" in August, says Daniel Butler, vice president of retail operations for the National Retail Federation.

Go online and see if you can find coupons to use in the store, says Hillary Mendelsohn, author of "thepurplebook" series of shopping guides and founder of "You can get just an amazing deal on bedding that you would never splurge on."

Discounts of 25% to 50% can be found on small housewares such as coffee makers and toasters, Butler says. Containers and organizational gear will be 20% to 35% off, in August, while small personal care appliances (like electric toothbrushes, blow-dryers, and shavers), will be about 20% off, he says.

And, for those who have trouble rising and shining, alarm clocks are typically about 25% off, Butler says.

Backpacks, Bikes and Athletic Clothes

Backpacks are a big part of back-to-school for both kids and college students. "The better brands are all on sale now in August," says Hillary Mendelsohn, author of "thepurplebook" series of shopping guides and founder of "And it's also when you have the best selection."

Look for discounts of 15% to 25%, she says.

Athletic clothes represent another overlap from back-to-school sales. Everything from shoes for every activity to shorts to yoga clothes will be up to 25% off in August, says Daniel Butler, vice president of retail operations for the National Retail Federation.

Bicycles are on the sale rack in August, too. With cooler weather soon rolling in, retailers "realize there won't be as many people outdoors," Mendelsohn says, especially on the East Coast. Look for discounts of up to 30% off, Mendelsohn says.

Tools and BBQ Fare

Got a Mr. or Ms. Fix-It in your life? August is "the best month of the year to buy tools," says Hillary Mendelsohn, author of "thepurplebook" series of shopping guides and founder of

"Tools never have huge sales, but they'll go anywhere from 15 (percent) to 20% off," she says. "The markup on tools is not huge."

Check online for coupons before you hit the store, she says.

But if you'd rather hit the supermarket than the hardware store, look for bargains on barbecue and picnic supplies, Mendelsohn says. Everything from condiments to staples such as hamburger buns and chips will be on sale, she says. "It's the last hurrah for barbecue."

Tomatoes, Peppers, Peaches and Melons

In the market for a rich, flavorful tomato or sweet, fresh peaches?

"In August, you see some of the produce that requires more heat to mature," says James Parker, facility team leader for the global produce for Whole Foods Market. "Really the peak is toward the end of August and early September."

Prices on many summer favorites have already dropped, and they'll decrease only slightly in August, he says, but look for better flavor and greater variety.

Among the highlights: Large "slicer" tomatoes will drop 50 cents to $1 per pound. "And it's the best time of year for tomato flavor," Parker says. As for peppers, field peppers start competing with greenhouse varieties, "so you may see some values there," he says. You can save 50 cents to $1 per pound on peppers, plus they're sweeter and you'll find more varieties, according to Parker.

Prices for peaches and nectarines can be expected to fall 25 cents to 50 cents per pound, Parker adds. And you might find modest discounts on melons, for which "the sugar content continues to get better the further into summer we go."

Grapes and Raspberries

Good news for grape lovers: Grape production doubles from late July to August, says James Parker, facility team leader for the global produce for Whole Foods Market. Prices will start to drop 50 cents to $1 per pound in August, depending on how far you are from the grower, he says.

You'll also get more choice and flavor for your dollar, Parker says. "Grapes will also get much sweeter, and you'll also see local and esoteric varieties -- Champagnes, Concords and muscadines."

And, depending on Mother Nature -- and your location -- you might find bargains on raspberries in August. Raspberry production increases, but prices are volatile because these berries "are very weather-dependent," he says.

Spa Services

Need a little relaxation after the kids are back in school? Or a little mother-daughter bonding before college starts? August is a great month for spa deals, says Lynne McNees, president of the International Spa Association.

"There are a lot more packages, a lot more buy one, get one free," she says.

And they can include everything from manicures and pedicures to facials and massages, she says.

August is a good time to ask for your own special, she says. Speak with the spa director at midweek or early in the morning, when business is slower. And arrange your treatments for a similar "downtime," she says.

"It's all about the negotiation," McNees says. "Nobody wants to pay full price anymore."