Back-to-school supplies – which store is cheapest?

We compare prices at Target, Kmart, Big W and Officeworks.

Best in class

If you haven't seen the many ads from Kmart, Big W, Officeworks and Target urging you to buy your back-to-school essentials from them, you're doing better than us. 

Every second TV ad, online banner and print ad we've seen in the last week seems to be telling us that the best and biggest savings can be had at one particular retailer or another.

But which is really the cheapest? 

We put together a list of 15 stationery and back-to-school essentials and checked the prices at the four stores to work out which one would help kids head back to school stocked up, with some canteen money to spare.

The retailer with the cheapest basket is…

Big W – their basket cost just $24.82, whereas you'll pay an extra $13.03 at Target, the most expensive of the four stores in our comparison, where the same or similar items will set you back $37.85.

Second cheapest was Officeworks where you'll pay $25.44 for the essentials, and in third place was Kmart, with a total of $26.35.

While a difference of  $13 might not seem like much, it all helps when money is tight. And if you have three kids, that's $39. Remember, too, that for some items – exercise books, for example – you'll probably be buying more than one.

What's in the basket?

  • 5-pack HB pencils
  • 12-pack coloured pencils
  • Pencil sharpener
  • 10-pack ballpoint pens
  • 10 or 12-pack colouring pens
  • Pencil case
  • 4-pack highlighter pens
  • Eraser
  • Glue stick
  • 64-page exercise book
  • Roll of adhesive book covering
  • A4 spiral-bound notebook
  • 2-ring binder
  • Water bottle
  • Lunch box

How we conducted our price spot-check

We created our shopping list of 15 items based on a variety of school requirements, taking into account availability on the day we shopped. We then compared the cheapest of each of the items across the four stores, doing our best to compare like-for-like.

We obtained prices online where possible, but looked in Sydney stores for the few items we couldn't find online. We did not take delivery fees into account, however we did note that these sites all offer free 'click and collect' (some with a minimum spend of $20/$25) or delivery for between $6 and $10 in metro areas.