Do you have a college-bound child that you are doing some last-minute dorm room shopping for? The good shipping deals will expire soon, so you want to get out now to take advantage of the deals.

RETAIL TRENDS FOR COLLEGE SHOPPERS THIS YEAR DIFFERENT FROM LAST:

1. Free shipping offers, as opposed to monthly or weekly sales right now — actually, only a few sales right now—this is the peak season for stores and when they expect to do their biggest business:

  • Positive: You’ll save hundreds of dollars in shipping
  • Negative: You will have to wait 2 weeks or more to get your goods; you don’t have the time to wait—even with the big box retailers, or discount places, like Wal-mart and Target.  My advice, based on trial and error is to avoid driving to a store to pick up the shipped good, (Container Store) even if the shipping is free—will take too much time. They never seem to have your goods waiting for you when you arrive at your scheduled “time slot”.
2. Assembly required on most items:

  • Positive: You’ll save money because you need to assemble
  • Negative: Many of this year’s products are not easy to assemble. Also, dorm rules are getting stricter about nailing things into walls—they may fine you and it isn’t easy for college kids to repair walls when they leave.

THE LATEST TRENDS, HITS AND MISSES IN EVERYTHING FOR YOUR DORM ROOM

  1. Bedding Sets: Best overall deals in decent quality bedding come in color-coordinated sets this season. Wal-mart has sets from $35-55. Some of their sets include 11 pieces for $55, including a carrying case that doubles as a hamper. If you like color-coordinated sets this is the way to go. Can’t beat the price. Quick-drying towels a must for space-saving, drying quickly and having fewer laundry loads.
  2. Skip Decorative Boxes, ranging from $15-25 each; meant to also be used to carry your belongings to and from the car. Personally, I would skip the boxes. For no money you can go to your local grocery store to get big cardboard boxes or go through your garage, and then fill in with some inexpensive Glad or Rubbermaid containers with lids.
  • Functional Wall Accessories: Wall Functionality is key this year, as many of the newest wall and desk accessories provide function and storage.  Pottery Barn Teen is selling a wide variety of fun, colorful accessories.
  • Closets have space-saving rods and places to put sweaters, shoes, and accessories: Hottest trend is extension closet rods, with places for hanging accessories, shoes and sweaters.
  • Decorative, Functional Desks: Cool looking art objects that double have holders for paper, pens, supplies
  • Cooking Ware: Many dorms are no longer allowing microwaves—alternatives are easy plug-in hot pots, and pizza makers—let’s face it, late night studying means pizza in dorm rooms.
  • SHOPPING ALERT! —Many colleges are trying to save money on electricity –they are prohibiting microwaves and refrigerators for the first time, but are providing things like garbage cans that you don’t need to buy—check with your school ahead of time, and try to coordinate with your roommate to save some money and avoid duplicating and overdoing it.
    Some of my favorite dorm room picks, including the latest trends in everything for your dorm room:

    FROM BED, BATH & BEYOND:

    For the Shower

    Hot Pot

    Handbag Storage Rack

    Hanger Extension

    FROM POTTERY BARN TEEN:

    Wire magazine rack

    Desk Accessories

    Closet Storage for Sweaters

    Wall Note Holder

    FROM WAL-MART:

    Pizza Maker

    Basketball Hoop for Over the Door

    11-piece Bedding Set

    FROM THE CONTAINER STORE:

    Double Hang Closet Rod

    FROM POTTERY BARN:

    Photo Rolodex Frame Cadre in 4×6″: $69

    Jennifer Litwin