Amazon or Walmart: Which is Cheaper for School Supplies?

Is Amazon or Walmart cheaper for school supplies?Since I am on a mission to avoid Walmart as much as I can this year, I thought it would be interesting to see if school supplies were comparably priced or cheaper on Amazon Prime. To do my research, I actually had to go to Walmart and get the school supply list for 2nd grade. Not sure why they don’t post it online, but what can you do? While I was there I spent about an hour seeking out cost of supplies, which ranks just above a root canal in my book. That’s right, I took one for the team to show you who has the best prices.

Always Pleasant Wal Mart Shopping Experience

I’m beginning to wonder if it’s just my Walmart that has extremely terrible customer service. On this trip, I had to ask an associate where something was. She just pointed and said, “It’s over behind stationery.” Hmmm, that would be helpful if I knew where stationery was, but I digress.

I did take more time that I thought because an older lady who spoke limited English needed help figuring out what she was supposed to buy for her grandkids. It’s harder than you might think to explain what a one inch binder is, so I went down the list with her and showed her where all the items were.

School Supplies For Elementary

I looked through all the grades, and it seems many of the supplies for elementary school were similar, regardless of age. The high school and middle schools required even less, with a calculator being the only thing I would grade as potentially expensive, although there were calculators at Wal Mart for $2.99. These are the supplies we have to provide for 2nd grade and their prices at Walmart vs Amazon.

24 Pack Crayola Crayons

Walmart:  1.97          Amazon: 11.49/24 in box, pack of 6

2 Packs (24 ct) Ticonderoga Pencils

Walmart: 4.96            Amazon: 4.00

2 Plastic Folders With Brads (WTF is a brad ?)

Walmart: .50 each    Amazon Price: .52 each if buying 12 pack

1 Pink Eraser (I’m guessing this is Pink Pearl, why do they care what color?)

Walmart: .50/2 pack   Amazon: .54/3 pack

 1 Pack Water Based Markers

Walmart:1.97   Amazon: 1.97

3 Glue Sticks

Walmart: 1.97/3pk   Amazon: 1.60/4pk

 1 Pack Wide Ruled Paper

Walmart: .82/100ct   Amazon:  2.58/200ct

1 Wide Ruled Spiral Notebook

Walmart:  .75   Amazon:  3.77/4pk

Fiskars Scissors

Walmart: 2.47   Amazon: 1.88

2 Large Boxes of Tissues

Walmart:  3.72/ Puffs 432ct   Amazon:  15.09/Kleenex 960ct

2 Boxes Baby Wipes (one for classroom, one for art)

Walmart: 1.88/80ct   Amazon: 10.97/448ct

 Clean PE shoes to leave at school (if these are not practically new, they will send them home)

Walmart: 14.97/ Danskin or Avia   Amazon: 24.99/ Skechers Kids Lite Swirlz Sneaker

What About Other Supplies?

 I also looked at backpacks, calculators, tablets, Chromebooks, and laptops.

Although Walmart did have a selection of backpacks from $3.99 up to $12.99, those all felt and looked like very cheap quality. My kid would wear them out before Christmas. A higher quality one at Walmart was $18.99, but I bet it still is not as good as this JanSport on Amazon for around $20. I had a Jansport backpack from high school on,  and it is  still in very good shape. Personally, I’d rather spend a little more on that type item and have it last several years rather than buy a crappy one every year, but that’s just me.

 Basic calculators were pretty cheap everywhere, but if you need a graphing calculator, Amazon’s price on the Texas Instruments TI-83 Graphing Calculator was $81, while Walmart was $96. Acer Aspire E1-572-6870 15.6 Inch Laptopat Walmart was $498, and $419 on Amazon. 11.6 inch Chromebooks were around $179 on Amazon and $229 at Walmart.

Who Was Cheaper?

For basic supplies, Walmart was the winner. While prices on Amazon were comparable or even cheaper in some cases, you had to buy multipacks to get the lower price. This might work if you are shopping for multiple kids, but isn’t smart if you have an only child. I don’t have a Target or any other big box store in my town, but I imagine the prices are pretty similar to Walmart.

For more expensive items like laptops or Chromebooks, I’d buy Amazon every time. The selection is better. You don’t have to find a store associate to help you get the item up to the register, and prices of the things I researched were less on Amazon.

As much as I would have loved to say everything is cheaper online, Walmart is the clear winner in price, at least for many basic school supplies. Amazon was the better deal for electronics or if you want higher quality items. One stop shopping is always easier, but for the best prices, it does take a combined effort most of the time.

Where do you buy school supplies? Do  you comparison shop or get it over with at once?

 

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/photomyheart

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Snipon.com.

38 Comments

  1. You know where I get my school supplies — Staples 🙂 But I don’t think you have one near you? The next place I’d look is Walgreens. They run some great back to school sales. But I’m the kind of person who will stop in to a store and pick up one item at a time over 4-6 weeks, if it means I can get it for 70% off or more 🙂

    1. No, no Staples nearby, but we do have a Walgreen’s and they do have some really cheap school supplies that I noticed in the ad this week.

  2. “if it’s just my Walmart that has extremely terrible customer service….” Uh…No. We did all our school shopping at Target and Office Depot. Walmart is a no-go for me anymore unless the end of the world is about to occur.

  3. Thankfully my days of buying school supplies haven’t started yet and I haven’t had to buy anything in about four years since I graduated college. It makes sense that Walmart is cheaper for some things because they don’t have to ship anything. Granted they have to stock (and man) a store, so maybe it is surprising that Walmart won out…

  4. I watch for sales and pick up the school supply items as they go on sale. Most of my purchases are at Walmart or Target, however I will occasionally find a good deal at the grocery store. For instance, last week the glue sticks were a dime at the Walmart in our area, so I bought many more than were needed. For the past 2 years we have a request for more glue sticks around Christmas and I have a stockpile to pull from and send in.
    If you need something mid-year chances are the prices will be better at Amazon. I ordered a case of glue sticks for $11.97 last year in December because they had the best price per glue stick. Also, things like pencils will be needed every year, so I like to grab them on clearance once school starts.

    1. We seem to go through pencils faster than toilet paper so I bought several of those. I never thought about stockpiling cheap supplies, but that certainly makes sense to save them for stocking stuffers. Thanks for the idea!

  5. We buy most of the basic school supplies at Target. Walmarts are less prevalent in LA but Target is in almost every city. 🙂 Most of our comparison shopping is on their clothes, although I agree that I would rather buy a higher quality, more classic backpack that they can use for a few years than a cheap one. Of course the cheap one have whatever is current on them, so sometimes I lose that battle. 🙂

    1. I love your candor! I kind of feel that same way, but we don’t have another option unless I drive 70 miles. That’s why Amazon is my new best friend.

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