Tuesday, 19 January 2021 10:45

CHOICE: Officeworks is cheapest 'back to school' essentials supplier

CHOICE Editor Marg Rafferty with supplies from the Back-to-School Basket Challenge CHOICE Editor Marg Rafferty with supplies from the Back-to-School Basket Challenge

No, a computer, tablet or smartphone isn't part of the CHOICE back-to-school essentials list, but instead, good old fashioned things like HB and coloured pencils, pencil sharpeners, ballpoint and coloured pens, glue sticks, exercise books and more, with Officeworks the clear price winner at less than $22.

It's that time of year again, when the kids are due to go back to school in a week or two, thus necessitating a stack of new supplies to ensure your young ones have the essentials they need to take notes, do homework, be creative, and learn.

You could be forgiven for thinking that computers and tablets were essential items for kids these days, and there's no doubt that they are an important part of a modern education, but when you're looking at a total cost of less than $25, computers and tablets obviously aren't part of this particular list of essentials.

Now I guess it depends on how much free-to-air TV you're watching, along with which particular channels you're watching, and whether you pay for YouTube premium or not, which determines whether you see ads when watching YouTube, but CHOICE notes in its excellent article that "If you haven't seen the many ads from Kmart, Big W and Officeworks urging you to buy your back-to-school essentials from them, you're doing better than us".

In its media release, CHOICE Editor Marg Rafferty said: “It’s good news for Australian parents this year, with all 3 of the major back to school retailers keeping prices in check.

“The CHOICE Back-to-School Basket Challenge price checked 17 school essentials at Officeworks, Big W and Kmart. With a tough 2020 for many Australian families, it’s promising to see these retailers compete to keep prices low. Officeworks won for the second year in a row, but the gap has narrowed with Big W with just over a dollar’s difference between the stores,” says Rafferty.

So, which retailer really is the cheapest, according to CHOICE's choice analysis and fact checking?

The renowned consumer advocates state they "put together a list of 17 stationery and back-to-school essentials and checked the prices at three stores to work out which one would help kids head back to school stocked up, with some canteen money to spare."

And the cheapest is Officeworks, with the cost of those 17 items just $21.37, with Big W at $22.50 and Kmart the most expensive at $25.40

We're told "This price comparison includes the various specials available on the day of our mystery shop."

The article explains why Target wasn't included in the comparison as well as why a backpack or a lunch box wasn't included either, and of course it's worth reading the original article with all the details.

The items above are as follows:

  • 5-pack HB pencils
  • 12-pack coloured pencils
  • 2 pencil sharpeners (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 (large)
  • 2-pack glue sticks
  • A4 exercise book (64 pages)
  • Roll of adhesive book covering (2m)
  • A4 spiral-bound notebook (120 pages)
  • 2-ring binder (25mm)
  • Water bottle (BPA free, 550mL or closest)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler (30cm)
  • Correction tape

CHOICE's article has more info, including on click and collect and delivery prices, as well as the results of such comparisons for previous years.

There's also info on back to school tech, and a health review of juice boxes.

CHOICE as always is an excellent resource and it's always a good choice to visit CHOICE to help you make better choices, so if you're ready to choose wisely, click here or on the image below.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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