If you aren’t yet in back-to-school prep mode, it’s time to get into gear. There are only a few days until term one begins and I’m armed with our back-to-school list and ready to shop. But with three kids in school, the bills start to add up so the question is, where can we get the cheapest back-to-school supplies.

Thanks to our friends at CHOICE, we’ve don’t even have to shop around. They did all the hard comparison work and know we know exactly which shops stock the cheapest back-to-school stock.

The CHOICE team put together a basket of 17 school stationery and other essentials and then compared prices at three main retailers – Officeworks, Kmart and Big W.

All three of these stores are honing in on the Back To School trade. If you step into any of these shops, the entire front of the store is dedicated to all things school. We don’t blame them as according to CHOICE, parents spend “about $590 to get each child ready for the start of the year.” That’s a whole lot of cash, especially if you have more than one kid.

Cheapest Back-To-School Supplies

And the winner of the cheapest back-to-school gear is….Officeworks.

The total tally of its basket came to $21,37, narrowly beating Big W, which came in at $22.50 and finally Kmart limped way behind at $25.40 – a significant $4 more expensive than the winner.

Choice noted that they didn’t include Target into the race as the stores “just didn’t have the range on offer for us to source products for the entire list.” I guess that’s why so many Target stores are closing or converting to Kmart.

cheapest backtoschool supplies


Won’t Break The Bank

“With a tough 2020 for many Australian families, it’s promising to see these retailers compete to keep prices low. Officeworks won for the second year in a row, but the gap has narrowed with Big W with just over a dollar’s difference between the stores,” says CHOICE Editor Marg Rafferty.

“We know that parents sending their kids back to school have to fork out large amounts of money for the big ticket items like school shoes and necessary classroom tech such as tablets and laptops. It’s good to be able to reassure parents that stationery basics don’t have to break the bank,” Rafferty added.

Take Away The Sales

BUT the results are not that straightforward. The CHOICE total included any specials that they were able to get at the stores on the day of their shop.

But when they removed the special prices and compared the non-sale prices, the results were slightly different.

Officeworks was still victorious at $21.37. But this time, Kmart cam second at $25.40, while Big W’s non-sale basked totally to a whopping $36.08 – almost $15 more pricey than Officeworks.

What was in the basket?

5-pack HB pencils
12-pack coloured pencils
2 pencil sharpeners (with receptacle to hold shavings)
10-pack ballpoint pens
10-pack colouring pens
Pencil case – the kind where you cut out letters to slip into the slots
4-pack highlighter pens
Eraser (large)
2-pack glue sticks
A4 exercise book (64 pages)
Roll of adhesive book covering (2m)
A4 spiral-bound notebook (120 pages)
2-ring binder (25mm)
Water bottle (BPA free, 550mL or closest)
Ruler (30cm)
Correction tape.

Where did you do your back-to-school shop? Do you agree with these results of the cheapest back-to-school supplies? Tell us in the comments below.


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  • Officeworks does have great prices and a large range.


  • I found office work has better prices.


  • Officeworks for us as we find it the most convenient


  • We are lucky to have shops around us that sell excess stationary from offices around us some unused some slighty used for $6 a kilo which is ridiculously cheap. You can find stickytape, correction tape, pacer pencils, erasers you name it is possible to get


  • I think it’s good to note that you don’t necessarily need everything on the list. You learn that over time. The writing paper suggested never gets used, the number of exercise books don’t all get used, so they all can carry over to the next year. Sort through that and then just shop around.


  • Unfortunately we didn’t have any of these options so we gave our order to the Post Office and they prepared our order for us and many others. They did do back to school specials but with 2 boys and my 2 nieces who were with us at the time it still turned out quite expensive. Was lucky to get change back from $200.

    • so expensive, especially just after Christmas.


  • I agree that Officeworks has a great variety of products at reasonable prices.


  • I think the school pack can be easier although a bit more expensive


  • At the school my kids go to, you can order a stationary pack. It goes together with a school fee for wifi, student ID, student organiser etc. It can be handy to go for this pack and saves you the hassle of going after the supplies.


  • Oh yes!!! Love finding a quality bargain


  • This was great helpful advice to get ready for the new school year.


  • For me it was simply easier to buy at Big W with the sales, I got everything I needed all in one shop and at a great price.


  • We finished scho stationary shopping a few weeks ago although couldn’t find everything in the 1 shop. So has been a real inconvenience caused by covid perhaps. Have been to many different retailers. Not enjoyable at all.


  • Normally I shop at Kmart for back to school items and get Fly Buys but this year I was so happy and shopped at Office Works and had the option of delivery.


  • Because the difference is marginal, I’m going with Big W for the Qantas frequent flyer points!


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