Back-to-school shopping at Amazon, Walmart, Target: Who is cheapest?

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With parents across the country busier than ever, shopping online for school supplies is a smart way to save time and money.

But how much money will you save and who will save you the most?

We put Amazon, Walmart and Target to the test by comparison-shopping online for a sample back-to-school supply list for a first-grade child. The results may surprise you…

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Who’s the cheapest for school supplies online?

Product Quantity Amazon Walmart Target
Package of #2 pencils, pre-sharpened 2 $12.26 $11.94 $3.98
Mead Composition Notebook Wide Ruled, Bound, Marble 4 $10.53 $11.48 $19.96
Erasers 2 $1.59 (unit price) $0.93 (unit price) $0.30 (unit price)
Fiskar Scissors, pair 1 $1.88 $0.60 (unit price) $1.49
Large glue stick (22g) 8 $14.52 (based on cheapest unit price) $10.18 (based on cheapest unit price) $7.97 (based on cheapest unit price)
Sharpie, Thin/Fine Tip, Black 1 $1.16 (unit price) $0.63 (unit price) $0.99 (unit price)
Crayons, 24-count boxes 2 $6.15 $1 $1
Pencil Box / Case, Plastic, 5″ x 8″ 1 $1.99 $1.88 $1.99
Kleenex Facial Tissues, 55-sheet box 2 $2.50* $2.50 $1.25
Hand Sanitizer, bottle — 28 fl. oz. 1 $3.99** $3.97 $4.99
Dixie Cups, package, 3 oz. (for school clinic) — 200 count 1 $13.04*** $3.62 $3.59
Ziploc brand bags, box – sandwich size (girls) — 152 count 1 $10.49**** $4.78 $4.49****
Ziploc brand storage bags, box – gallon size (boys) — 66 count 1 $7.88***** $7.37 $7.89*****
TOTAL $87.98 $60.88 $59.89

Notes: * 50-sheet box /  ** 30-fl. oz bottle / *** doubles the $6.52 price of a 100-count box /  **** 150-count box  / ***** 75-count box

A couple of things to keep in mind about our price comparison:

1. If a retailer’s website suggested a product as a best match, we used that option.

2. When a retailer’s website didn’t readily offer a price point for one unit — such as a single Sharpie pen — we looked to develop a unit price. For example, Walmart had a 12-pack of Sharpies for $7.56, so we determined a unit price of 63 cents.

3. When items were cheaper in bulk than they were as a unit price offering, we used the former not the latter. So, for example, the Mead notebook sells individually for $2.99 on Amazon. But Amazon also offered a five-pack for $10.53. Even though we only needed four notebooks, it was cheaper to buy a five-pack for $10.53 than it was to pay $11.96 to buy four notebooks at an individual unit price of $2.99.

4. We tried to stick with items sold by the retailer itself — not third-party sellers on the retailer’s website. Sometimes this wasn’t possible, as was the case with Crayola crayons on Amazon.

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The results

All three order sizes meet free shipping requirements, so the cost of shipping isn’t a factor here. Therefore, the results speak for themselves. Target.com was $1.01 cheaper than Walmart.com, and both of them trounced Amazon when it comes to price!

That said, you may prefer to get your school supplies in a store. In that case, don’t overlook the possibility that office supply stores and supermarkets may offer some individual great deals.

Our sister site ClarkDeals.com can keep you up to date with all the latest and greatest back-to-school deals!

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