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Officeworks named cheapest place for back-to-school shopping

Does Officeworks, Big W or Kmart have the cheapest back-to-school supplies? Images: Getty

Millions of students are set to return to school in days, meaning hordes of parents and caregivers are flooding the shops to pick up school supplies. 

But with pencils, pens, glue sticks, pencil cases, rulers, scissors and exercise books to purchase, the costs can add up. 

Consumer advocate group CHOICE has crunched the numbers on which shops offer the best back-to-school deals, and found that Officeworks has the cheapest supplies, at $26.87 for a 17-item basket. That’s compared to the $29.69 at Big W and $30.00 at Kmart. 

That basket includes: 

  • 5-pack HB pencils

  • 12-pack coloured pencils

  • Pencil sharpener with receptacle to hold shavings

  • 10-pack ballpoint pens

  • 10 pack colouring pens

  • Pencil case - the kind where you cut out letters to slip into the slots

  • 4-pack highlighter pens

  • Eraser

  • Glue stick

  • 64-page exercise book

  • Roll of adhesive book covering (2m)

  • A4 spiral-bound notebook (120 pages)

  • 2-ring binder (25mm)

  • Water bottle (stainless steel)

  • Scissors

  • Ruler

  • Correction tape

According to CHOICE’s managing editor, Marg Rafferty, the cost of school supplies can mount quickly.

“Uniforms, shoes, backpacks, lunchboxes, and stationery amount to quite a lot of money, especially if you have more than one child at school.” 

Rising price of school supplies

According to YouGov research commissioned by Big W, back-to-school is costing Australian families $62 more this year than in 2019.

In fact, based on a basket including items like iPads and laptops, the average Australian family will spend a whopping $538 on school supplies. 

“It seems back-to-school shopping is becoming more costly and increasingly complex with parents juggling meeting specifications from their child’s school with the latest trends,” eBay Australia’s Sophie Onikul said.

“Once you factor in time and money pressures, you can see why some parents feel more anxious than their children about going back to school!”

The government’s MoneySmart resource suggests shoppers aim for “cheap but durable” stationery, rather than brand name items if they want to save. 

And, it’s a good idea to be aware of the school subsidies available.

When do kids go back to school?

This is when kids go back to school: 


Tuesday 28 January (eastern division)

Tuesday 4 February (western division)

Australian Capital Territory: 

Monday 3 February (new students)

Tuesday 4 February (all students)

Northern Territory: 

Tuesday 28 January (urban schools)

Wednesday 29 January (remote schools)


Tuesday 28 January

South Australia: 

Tuesday 28 January


Wednesday 5 February


Tuesday 28 January

Western Australia: 

Monday 3 February

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