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An inside look at top retailers and the consumers they covet

Local blogger finds the best back to school deals for this week

Back to school shopping doesn't follow the same trajectory as other shopping pursuits. If you wait until the week before school starts, many of the best deals are long gone and some items are out of stock. That's the opposite of many items where clearance deals pop up as the season wanes.

Carrie Rocha, a Twin Cities' resident and Pocket Your Dollars blogger, has been tracking the best weekly deals on more than 50 items since July. Each Monday she releases a new chart of the week's best deals. This week she found the best deals on character backpacks ($4.97), 3-ring binders ($0.88 to $0.97), scientific calculator Texas Instruments TI-30xa ($8.94), Crayola crayons ($0.24 for 24), composition notebooks ($0.50)--all at Wal-Mart, highlighters ($1 after coupon, Office Depot/Max),  and Post-It notes ($4.42 at Target). Check out the entire list at PocketYourDollars.

One back-to-school item that can wait until after Labor Day is clothing. Kids can check to see what styles continue to be popular. Later in the fall, items such as jeans and boots will be discounted.

Don't forget about price matching policies if you want to attempt one stop shopping. You'll need the competitor's current ad or an online printout. (Not all stores match online prices.)

Based on Rocha's price lists, it appears that Wal-Mart has the lowest prices most often. She also lists the best price of the season so you'll know how good a deal is. Remember to check your child's list against the school's recommended one, often found in local neighborhood discounters.

Best Buy holds 50-hour sale to mark 50th anniversary

Amazon has Prime Day. Now Best Buy is having its own anniversary sale to mark its 50th birthday.

Starting tonight at 10 p.m., the Richfield-based electronics retailer is holding a sale that will last – you guessed it – 50 hours featuring, yes, 50 Black Friday-like deals.

The promotions include $150 off select MacBook Pros, $400 off a 65-inch Samsung 4K TV, and $180 off Beats Studio headphones. Most of the deals are available both online and in-store, but some are just online.

The sales event is reminiscent of Amazon’s Prime Day, a one-day sales day that it first launched last year to commemorate its 20th anniversary. Its Prime Day last month was heralded as its biggest sales day ever.

Best Buy could use the extra sales boost. The company has forecast no sales growth this year amid a slowdown in smartphones, which has been its bread and butter in recent years. And yesterday, Target raised more concerns about the health of the electronics industry after it reported a double-digit decline in electronics sales in its second quarter and most notably a more than 20 percent decline in sales of Apple products. Best Buy will report its results next week.

The company’s 50th anniversary is also technically next week. Its first store opened on August 22, 1966 in St. Paul. It operated then under the name Sound of Music but later changed its name to Best Buy.