Back-to-school and back-to-college spending are expected to reach $83.6 billion in 2017 — the second-highest level on record — according to the National Retail Federation. Thankfully, you don't have to break your budget checking off a school supplies list if you take advantage of the right back-to-school sales at Target and Walmart. Read on to find out which retailer has the winning price on every school essential.
Back-to-school shopping isn't complete without a new backpack, so head to Target for the best deals. For example, a Pokémon Pikachu-shaped backpack costs $9.39 at Target, but the same item has a $14.88 price tag at Walmart.
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Pencils and Pens: Target
Always on the list of necessary school items, head to Target for pencils and pens. Even school shopping in bulk won't save you at Walmart, where two 10-packs of blue BIC Xtra Life medium ballpoint pens are $5.77, compared with one pack for just 99 cents at Target.
The deals are much closer when it comes to pencils. Target has a 26-pack of BIC Xtra Sparkle mechanical pencils — 0.7 mm lead — for $6.29, whereas a 24-pack of the same item is $6.18 at Walmart. The Target price might look higher, but because you get two extra pencils for just 11 cents more, the per-unit price is actually lower.
Some items are cheaper at one store than the other, but Target and Walmart tie for lunchboxes. Both retailers sell the Wildkin Dinomite Dinosaurs Lunchbox for $10.39, so pick it up at the school supply store where you find yourself first.
Notebook Paper: Walmart
Here's a tip for scoring cheap back-to-school essentials: Purchase notebook paper at Walmart. A 150-count pack of Norcom wide-ruled notebook paper costs just 98 cents at Walmart, compared with $1.99 for a 175-count pack of notebook paper from the same brand at Target.
Glue Sticks: Walmart
Walmart comes through as the best discount school supply store to buy glue. Get a two-pack of Elmer's Washable Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks for 50 cents, compared with 99 cents at Target for the exact same product.
Get cheap school supplies by adding crayons to your Walmart shopping list. A 24-pack of classic Crayola colors costs just 50 cents at Walmart, compared with $1.37 at Target — meaning you'd pay nearly three times the price for the same item at the latter retailer.
A pair of scissors is likely on your kids' school supplies list, so save money by heading to Target. Thanks to back-to-school sales, a 5-inch pair of red, blunt-tip Fiskars scissors is 99 cents, cheaper than the $1.36 Walmart charges for the same product.
Chances are your kids need multiple folders, so buying them at the cheapest school supply store is a must. Walmart wins this round with a two-pocket, plastic Five Star folder for $1.77, as opposed to $1.99 for a similar item at Target.
You don't even need back-to-school sales to save money on binders at Target. The store sells the Five Star Flex 230-sheet, 1-inch binder for $8.99, which is a steal compared to Walmart's price of $11.45 for a similar Five Star Flex 1-inch binder with a capacity of just 200 sheets.
Colored Pencils: Walmart
Crayola colored pencils are another discount school supply item sold by Walmart. A 24-pack costs $2.77 at the popular school supply store, while Target charges $4.99 for the exact same item.
Mistakes happen, so erasers are an important part of a school supplies list. Save major money at Target, where you can get a box of 24 medium-sized Paper Mate Pink Pearl erasers for $7.79, compared with a whopping $17.90 for the same product at Walmart.
Highlighters are one of the most essential school items, so put them on your Walmart shopping list. When you buy from the retail giant, you'll pay $3.97 for a three-pack of Sharpie Clear View highlighters, compared with $4.99 for the same item at Target.
Back-to-school shopping for markers is easy because Target and Walmart both have low prices. Pick up a 12-pack of Crayola washable markers in assorted colors for $6.99 at either store.
Spiral Notebooks: Target
Currently one of Target's back-to-school sales, get a Mead 70-page, one subject notebook for 99 cents. In comparison, a similar 70-page Mead notebook costs $1.70 at Walmart, making Target the better deal.
Do the math and you'll find that Walmart and Target are equal school supply stores for calculators. You can get the Casio SL-300SV eight-digit calculator for $5.99 at either retailer.
Prices were sourced from Walmart.com and Target.com on Aug. 1, 2017. Prices are subject to change.