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Comparing prices on school supplies for Target, Walmart and Staples

Posted: 10:15 AM, Jul 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-23 13:15:42-04

Parents, it's time to get those back-to-school supplies, and you know they can be expensive! So, I did the hard work for you, comparing identical items at three stores to see where you'll get the biggest bang for your buck!

For this school supply matchup, I went to Target, Walmart and Staples for about 15 items and scoured the shelves for the cheapest price of each one! Let's start with five supplies. Right off the bat, it's a close race!

All three stores tie for prices on a 4-ounce container of Elmer's Glue. It was 50 cents for Target, Walmart and Staples.

It's that same price (50 cents) for a 24-pack of Crayola Crayons at all three again!

Walmart and Staples tie when it comes to a 70-page, one subject notebook. Their prices are 25 cents each. Target starts at 59 cents.

A 10-count box of fine line Crayola Markers costs 99 cents at Target and 97 cents at both Walmart and Staples.

For 3x5 100 ruled index cards, it's 50 cents at Staples, 49 cents at Target, and Walmart has the lowest price, a penny less, at 48 cents each.

When it comes to finding the items inside the stores, Walmart and Target were the easiest to shop. The Staples location I went to had items up front and all over the store. You had to be thorough in searching to find the savings at Staples, and do your own comparing.

Here's an example: though different brands, up in the school section, there were 36 mechanical pencils for $16.99. In another section closer to the middle of the store, there were 46 mechanical pencils for $7.99. That's a big difference in price!

Staples did offer an area to shout out teachers and an area to pick up classroom supply lists to help local educators though, and that was unique!

In the end, once I totaled everything up, Walmart consistently had the lowest prices.

Regardless of where you shop, check the sale tags for fine print! Some of the prices are only available through a certain date or for the first 30 you purchase, and then drastically go up in price. Another thing to keep in mind is that items can sometimes get put into the wrong category on the shelf. Double check to make sure the tagged description and price matches the item in your cart before you check out. Otherwise, you'll overspend, sometimes without even realizing it.

We compared identical items, along with a few that were very similar, but different. See the full comparison below.

3x5 100 ruled index cards:
TARGET: 49 cents
WALMART: 48 cents (LOWEST PRICE)
STAPLES: 50 cents

Elmer's Glue 4 Fl. Oz. (TIE FOR ALL THREE):
TARGET: 50 cents
WALMART: 50 cents
STAPLES 50 cents

Crayola Crayons, 24 pack (TIE FOR ALL THREE):
TARGET: 50 cents
WALMART: 50 cents
STAPLES: 50 cents for the first 30, then $1.79 each

Crayola Colored Pencils, 12 pack:
TARGET: 99 cents
WALMART: 50 cents (LOWEST PRICE)
STAPLES: 97 cents for the first 30, then $2.99 each until August 24, 2019

Crayola Washable Crayons, 24 pack:
TARGET: $2.49
WALMART: $2.47
STAPLES: $2.00 (LOWEST PRICE)

Composition Notebook, 100 sheets college rule:
TARGET: $2.49 - $3.49 (80 sheets, wide-ruled is 50 cents, and 70 sheets college ruled is 59 cents)
WALMART: $2.97 (50 cents for wide-ruled)
STAPLES $.50 (now seeing 75 cents online for both college rule and wide rule)

One subject notebook, 70 pages:
TARGET: 59 cents to 99 cents
WALMART: 25 cents (TIED FOR LOWEST PRICE)
STAPLES: 25 cents for the first 30, then $1.79 each (fancy notebooks start at $1.00) (TIED FOR LOWEST PRICE)

Crayola Markers, 10 count, fine line:
TARGET: 99 cents
WALMART: 97 cents (TIED FOR LOWEST PRICE)
STAPLES: 97 cents (TIED FOR LOWEST PRICE)

Crayola Markers, 10 count, broad line:
TARGET: 99 cents (LOWEST PRICE)
WALMART: $4.98
STAPLES: $4.00

Crayola Washable Markers, 10 count:
TARGET: $2.97 (TIED FOR LOWEST PRICE)
WALMART: $2.97 (TIED FOR LOWEST PRICE)
STAPLES: $3

Bic Mechanical Pencils, higher count (not identical):
TARGET: 26-count is $4.29
WALMART: 27-count is $3.88
STAPLES: 24-count is $6.49

Bic Mechanical Pencils, lower count (not identical):
TARGET: 8-count is $1.49
WALMART: 7-count is $1.47
STAPLES: 6-count is 97 cents

Expo Dry Erase Markers, 4 count:
TARGET: $3.79 (LOWEST PRICE)
WALMART: $4.46
STAPLES: $6.99

Binders, 1/2 inch:
TARGET: $2.49
WALMART: $1.47 (LOWEST PRICE)
STAPLES: $1.92

Binders, 1 inch:
TARGET: $4.99
WALMART: $1.47 (LOWEST PRICE)
STAPLES: $1.92

Binders, 1.5 inches:
TARGET: $6.49
WALMART: $2.46 (LOWEST PRICE)
STAPLES: $3.79

Non-pronged folders (not identical):
TARGET: $1.25
WALMART: $.15
STAPLES: $.25

Pronged folders (not identical):
TARGET: $1.99
WALMART: $.15
STAPLES: $2.99

Wide-ruled paper (not identical):
TARGET: 175 sheets start at 99 cents
WALMART: 150 sheets starts at 82 cents
STAPLES: 120 sheets cost 85 cents for the first 30, then $1.99 each

There can only be one winner! So, if we total up only the identical items, it would be $25.97 before tax at Walmart, $27.81 before tax at Staples, and $30.76 at Target. When you total up all the items above, it would be $32.44 before tax at Walmart, $39.36 before tax at Staples, and $40.77 at Target. This comparison shows that Walmart has the best back-to-school prices of the three compared.

It's important to note that the prices may have changed since this story was put together. Do your research and compare to find the best prices to save the most!