Back to school price comparison shows it matters where you shop

Back to school price comparison shows it matters where you shop

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - If you missed tax free weekend, don't worry too much.  Sales are still going on at most stores and you won't be the only one checking items off your child's back to school supply list.  WMBF News decided to price out the most common items from three different stores to help save you money.

WMBF News reporter Meredith Helline took a look at your school lists and found out the best places to buy.  She found many prices are comparable, but when it comes to bigger items like expandable folders and backpacks, it does matter where you shop.

Back to school shopping is something to look forward to for many students.  Adrienne Shaub is an Horry County school parent and Target employee.  She's watched the shelves at the store load up and be picked away to emptiness.  Now, she said, they're clearing out the warehouses and the last of back to school supplies are stocked, with great sales.

"We're very, very busy, usually back to school time is our busiest time besides Christmas," Shaub said.

While kids have fun picking out new backpacks, parents are looking at the prices.  Looking at our local school supply lists, we know your receipt reflects where your child goes to school.  Some lists are long, others are short.  WMBF News visited Target, Walmart and Office Max to see what's the best deal on the biggest items.

Composition notebooks run at 50 cents at both Walmart and Target.  A 24-pack of Crayola Crayons also runs at 50 cents at those stores.  However, they were sold out Thursday at Myrtle Beach's Walmart Supercenter.

Despite sell-outs, coupons are still flowing on top of the in-store sales.  Shaub wanted to remind people that not all paper and online coupons will be honored at stores.  She said coupons are very specific as to what they apply to.  So, not every thing you see online will be the same in stores.  WMBF News found the best prices at Walmart and Target inside the store, while Office Max was a mix of both.

"Throughout the seasons they will have certain items on sale.  So like right now there's a whole category just on specific sales within the school department that the guest can use on top of sales and like manufactured coupons and stuff," Shaub said.

We looked at top back to school items that aren't similarly priced from store to store.  This is what we found:

For backpacks, Jansport is a popular brand and $34.99 at Target right now. The same brand is cheaper at Walmart at $31.45.  However, there are fewer to choose from.  All three stores have other backpacks as well; online, Walmart shows children's backpacks lower than $5 dollars.  The stores also all have sales on their backpacks right now.

A four pack of EXPO markers is on sale at Target for $3.47.  At Office Max: $7.89.  Sharpies are popular; you can get a 10 pack of Sharpies on sale for $5 at Target, or a 12-pack for $12.49 at Office Max.  We found Target carries items like pens in packs of 10, while Walmart and Office Max carry them more often is packages of eight and 12.

Loose-leaf paper is probably one of the hottest things to buy.   At Office Max, they have 100 count packs for one cent.  At Walmart, 82 cents for a 150 sheet pack.  At Target, 50 cents for 100 sheets.

We found it matters where you shop.  Breaking things out by category, Office Max has the lowest prices for paper and ballpoint pens.  Target and Walmart are in the same range, though. Target came through with the best prices, durability and selection of expandable folders.

Don't forget about school necessities like paper towels, facial tissue, hand sanitizer and plastic lunch baggies.  Those show up on almost all supply lists.  We found Walmart has the lowest prices on those: 180 baggies per Ziploc box for $3.92.

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.