It’s that time of year where it’s not uncommon to see frantic parents racing around town trying to grab the best bargains on three-ring binders and snatch up the Expo markers before they sell out. Is there an easier way to get this annual fall ritual done? It seems like shopping for your kids’ school supplies online would definitely save you time. You wouldn’t have to drive to the store (or even stores) and back, stand in line at the register or spend any time tracking down the items you need. So, online shopping could mean saving an hour or two (plus stress). But is it less expensive?

To find out, we asked some of our friends to share their kid’s school supplies list. What we learned in the process was these days:

  • Parents are often given a preliminary list and then a much longer list on the first day of school
  • Some stuff can be reused from the previous year
  • Some schools now charge a set fee and buy the school supplies themselves
  • There are often other essentials that have to be purchased like backpacks, lunchboxes and uniforms

So, keep that in mind as you create your plan of attack for back-to-school shopping. We took some of the more standard school supplies and created a quick price comparison chart.

Item Amazon Target Wal-Mart Staples
Crayola 24-count crayons $2.64 $1.37 $0.50 $2.49
4-Pack Elmer’s Gluestick $1.99 $1.99 $1.97 $3.79
Mead Wide-Ruled 3-Hole Loose Leaf Paper $6.78 $3.47 $2.32 $4.00
5 Mead Composition Notebooks $8.99 $3.75 $2.50 $2.50
12 Dixon #2 Pencils $1.99 $2.24 $2.17 $3.65
TI 30XS Scientific Calculator $14.99 $19.99 $14.99 $17.99
Kids’ Scissors (Various brands) $2.99 $2.99 $1.47 $1.75
Crayola 8-Count Washable Markers $7.59 $2.77 $3.94 $3.00

Looks like it’s almost always in the best interest of your wallet to do your back-to-school shopping in store – For now. If you’re still looking to save time, many stores will let you order online and pick up in store, so at least you can get in and out quickly.