CLIFTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — As students get ready to head back to school, the National Retail Federation says most families have only finished about half of their school shopping.

CBS2’s Marc Liverman got an up-close look at the last-minute rush on Monday.

With just hours to go before the first bell of the new school year, the scavenger hunt was on!

“It was packed. Yeah, it was packed,” said Rob Jelinski of Bloomfield.

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File photo of woman picking up school supplies. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Some in Clifton weren’t too excited to go back to school, and do the shopping that comes with it.

For most, the plan was simple.

“You have to knock it out early, online. Knock it out weeks before,” one person said.

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But the National Retail Federation says close to 83 percent of people fall short of that plan. Instead, they pick up those last-minute items either right before or right after school starts.

“Notebook, pencils, some markers,” said Ray Diaz of Belleville.

“Sneakers for my son, you know, some clothes, shirts, stuff like that,” another shopper said.

“Well, he needs a backpack. I’m sure he’ll like something like … what type of backpack do you like?” Makini Givens asked little Ethan Washington.

“Black Panther,” he responded.

But hey, if Kohl’s runs out of that, Ethan has a back-up plan.

“If they don’t have Black Panther, I will get Iron Man,” he said.

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It seems like everybody CBS2’s Liverman spoke to was shopping Monday for the same reason: deals. Everyone with a few items on their school shopping list left just hoping to get the best bang for their buck.

“A little more than half off,” Samantha Abernovich of Nutley said of her savings.

“Here is like 30 percent with a coupon and everything,” Diaz added.

But waiting until the final few hours doesn’t always pay off.

“We went in there … once we saw the lines, we were just so discouraged we decided to come out,” North Arlington’s Gabriela Lopez said. “It was pretty bad. It wasn’t worth a pair of socks.”

Although that might depend on who you ask, and the deal that comes with it.

According to consulting firm Deloitte, American families are projected to spend nearly $30 billion on back-to-school items. That’s an amount that is second only to holiday shopping.