Where to shop for dorm room deals

If you’ve been to any big-box stores recently, you’ve probably run into lots of parents (and students) frantically filling their shopping carts with dorm room necessities.

Many of those shoppers — who will spend an estimated $48.5 billion on college purchases, according to the National Retail Federation — will rely on tried-and-true discount stores and big-box stores to get the traditional dorm room items. But a lot has changed when it comes to shopping for college. Here are some other resources to consider when you are looking for dorm room deals this year:

Dorm in a box: This family-owned company offers bundled packages of dorm room necessities such as towels, twin XL sheets, electronic items, tools for organization and more. You also have the option of creating your own box filled with whatever you need. In either case, you will save up to 20 percent over shopping big-box stores or other online sources, the company says. Check the "deals" tab for penny items and check social media for additional discount codes and deals.

Target College Registry: You can register for almost anything these days, so why not your dorm needs? Visit Target.com to create, manage or find a college registry. For now, the service is available only online. You can purchase items in-store, but you can't print or update registries at the in-store kiosks. The registry will list your name, the college you are attending and the date, along with all the items you desire. Bed, Bath and Beyond also offers a college registry. In fact, you could pretty much create your own college registry at any store that offers dorm room essentials — even if the store hasn't taken the extra step of calling it a college registry.

Dormify: This is the place for fashion-minded college-bound girls who want high design for their dorms. The site offers design advice and inspiration specifically suited to small spaces. In addition to making you able to purchase everything you need from the windows to the walls of your dorm (their reference, not mine), they also have a blog and style ambassadors at high schools and colleges nationwide that you can consult for design help.

Dorm Co.: Billed as the "college dorm supplies superstore," this site offers dorm deals at low prices. For example, a 44-piece dorm essentials set — which includes all bedding, towels, shower caddy, silverware, laundry bags and more — costs $169. Shipping is $2.95 for all items with no minimum purchase. The company was formerly a wholesaler that supplied all the big-box stores with dorm stuff, so this is the same gear you would find in stores minus a retailer markup.

Tun.com: This has nothing to do with dorms, but once college students have settled in, the deals don't have to stop. The University Network is a free app that helps college students nationwide save on a variety of services, restaurants and activities. Download the app and you are able to view and access deals near the school. The deals are typically student discounts or specials that are available with a student ID.