Best deals to make back-to-school shopping made easy

July 31, 2013 3:07:51 PM PDT
Parents, it's time to start thinking about back to school and school supplies. Instead of looking through ads or going to all the stores, we did the work and found out which stores really have the best prices.

What is the best bargain? Is it the office supply store or the discount stores? We teamed up with Consumer Reports Shopsmart Magazine and compared everyday prices to help you find the best bargains.

For many kids, the start of school brings the excitement of shopping for school supplies. So where do you get the best prices on all these supplies?

"Stores lure you in with great deals, like pencils for a penny. But you have to be careful or you could wind up paying too much for the other items on your list," Consumer Reports Shopsmart Magazine Jody Rohlena said.

Shopsmart Magazine wanted to know which stores had the best everyday deals, and sent secret shoppers to check prices at Office Depot, Staples, Target and Walmart.

And the bargains weren't always where you'd expect.

"You might think an office-supply store is the best place to go, but often it wasn't," Rohlena said.

In fact, Staples and Office Depot tied for the highest prices on most items.

Store-brand, two-pocket folders at Staples cost a $1.01, compared to Walmart's 48 cents.

How about notebooks? Mead's Five-Star, one-subject notebooks at Staples go for $6.02, but Walmart's got them for $2.76.

And loose-leaf paper? Norcom-brand packages of 150 sheets at Office Depot were $3.01. Go to Walmart, and you'll pay just 82 cents.

"Walmart had the least-expensive prices on the most items. And in many cases, Target was right behind them," Rohlena said.

Shopsmart says as a general rule look for store brands. They can save you nearly 75 percent.

Shopsmart also suggests asking for a price match if you see a better deal somewhere else. Office Depot, Staples, Target, and Walmart all have price-matching policies. Just bring an ad to the store from your local paper, or call it up on your smart phone to get the better price.

Find Patricia on Facebook at ABC13PatriciaLopez or on Twitter at @patricialopez13

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