Which Stores Have the Best Back-to-School Shopping Deals in 2018?

Parents might breathe a sigh of relief when it’s time to send the kids back to school, but they probably aren’t too happy about the cost. Parents plan to spend an average of $685 on back to school gear and supplies for their children, a 2018 WalletHub survey found.

When you’re shelling out hundreds of dollars, it makes sense to look for bargains when you can. Aside from paying attention to sales tax holidays, you’ll need to do some comparison shopping to score the best deals. Big retailers like Walmart, Staples, and Target are competing for your dollars and slashing prices on crayons, notebooks, and other essentials. Here are some of the best shopping deals for back-to-school 2018 we found.



Walmart | Niloo138/iStock/Getty images

Walmart is the most popular place for back-to-school shopping, WalletHub discovered, and for good reason. The mega-retailer has plenty of deals for 2018.

  • TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator: If your high school student needs one of these pricey calculators, buy it at Walmart. It’s currently on sale there for $88, compared to $99.99 at Staples, $109.99 at Target, or $129.99 at Kohl’s.
  • CraZArt 24-count crayons: No, they’re not Crayola, but this box of crayons is just 25 cents, compared to 50 cents for a same-size pack of the big-name brand at Walmart and many other stores. 
  • Crayola 10-count markers: Score these for a measly 97 cents at Walmart. The same package of markers at Staples costs $4.99.
  • Folders: Walmart has a variety of folders on sale for 15 cents each.


  • Crayola 12-count colored pencils: Get these colorful essentials for 99 cents at Target, compared to $3.49 at Staples.
  • Up&Up 12-inch wooden ruler: The store-brand ruler is 25 cents at Target. A similar item is 50 cents at Staples.
  • 24-count Up&Up wooden pencils: Score two dozen pencils for $1.19 – just 5 cents a pencil.


Want to save more at Staples? Buy a backpack (like this Despicable Me backpack for $19.99) and save 20% off of all school supplies. You can also find a coupon for $5 off $25 worth of school supplies in the store’s weekly ad (expires August 11).

  • 500 sheets of Staples brand copy paper: At $3 for a ream of paper, this is one of the lowest prices you’ll find for copy paper. Compare to $3.68 for a ream of paper at Walmart or $7.19 for a ream at Office Depot/Office Max.
  • 100-count Staples 3×5-inch ruled index cards: This must-have for note-taking is 50 cents at Staples, compared to $2.99 for a similar pack of heavy-weight ruled index cards from Amazon.

Office Depot/Office Max

  • Puffs Basic 2-Ply Facial Tissue, 3-pack: This three-pack of tissues is $4 at Office Depot and Office Max, about 50 cents cheaper than at Walmart or Target, and half the price of the same item at Staples.
  • 6-pack of Office Depot Brand Yellow Highlighters: This multi-pack of highlighters is on sale for just $2, or about 33 cents per highlighter.
  • 1-Subject Wide-Ruled Spiral Notebooks: 25 cents at Office Depot/Office Max, compared to 75 cents for a similar item at Staples.

Dollar General  

Dollar General has backpacks on sale for as little as $3, one of the best deals out there. Plus, you can save $5 off of a school supplies purchase of $15 or more with a store coupon.

Dollar Tree 

With big sales at other stores, Dollar Tree isn’t always the cheapest place for school supplies, but you can score some deals, like various 1-inch 3-ring binders for $1 each.

Finding the best deals

Artwork accessories

School supplies | Smiltena/iStock/Getty Images

Combing through adds to find the specific items on your child’s school supply list is time-consuming. To quickly find the best deals, you can check out the back-to-school price comparison database at Penny Pinchin Mom. Just search for the item you need, and it will pull up the lowest-priced options at stores like Target, Walmart, Staples, and Dollar General.

All prices found on store websites and current as of August 6, 2018.

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