It’s that time again – shopping for Back to School supplies.
And while parents may actually be singing and dancing through the aisles as they throw items into the shopping cart while their children grimace, they might not be smiling when they get to the cashier.
According to the National Retail Federation, the average American family with children in K-12 schools will spend nearly $700 on supplies. Those shopping online will spend nearly $900 this year. And this doesn’t include computers, clothes, and shoes, just supplies.
If Concord families are similar to those nationally, they’ll be looking around the city for some bargains.
This week, Concord NH Patch visited a number of retail outlets that sell school supplies: CVS, Target, Ocean State Job Lot, Best Buy, Walmart, Rite Aid, and Staples, to find out what’s out there this year.
The selection of items varied widely with some stores offering an abundance of options in each needed category and others offering one or two items. Prices also varied, with some stores offering blowout discounts and others playing it safe.
Walmart was the only store offering a helpful printout of what a certain student in a certain grade might need for supplies.
Staples offered a $10 savings pass that customers can use all year to receive 15 percent of school supply purchases. In order to make the $10 back, a customer would need to spend at least $67 on supplies.
No one store dominated another in any category.
When shopping for standard No. 2 pencils, for example, prices varied widely, with Staples charging $5 for 24 Ticonderoga pencils that were $3.96 at Walmart and $3.99 at Target. CVS had a 24-pack of Caliber brand pencils for $2.77. However, a 20-pack of Lovett No. 2 pencils at Ocean State Job Lot was only $1.50. A 12-pack of Ticonderogas at Target was $2.29 while a 12-pack of Staples brand pencils was $1. A 10-pack of pencils at $1.29, with a buy one, get one free special though Aug. 4.
Prices on standard Bic ballpoint pens were a bit closer together.
Walmart had the best price: 97-cents for a pack of 10. The same pens were $1 at Target, $1.25 at Ocean State Job Lot and $1.99 at Best Buy. Rite Aid had 10-packs for $2.59, with a 50 percent off special on a second package. Staples offered a 24-pack for $5.
Prices on notebooks also varied widely, from less than $1 to $14, depending on the type of notebook, brand, the size of the rule, number of sheets, number of pockets, and where the notebooks were made.
One-subject notebooks at Ocean State Job Lot ranged from 79 cents to $2. A five-subject notebook with 180 sheets, wide rule, was only $2. Best Buy had 70-sheet notebooks, wide rule, for 99 cents. Over at Staples, single- to five-subject notebooks ranged in cost from $2 to $3.99. Similar prices were found at Target ($2.79 to $3.59) and Walmart ($2.97 to $4.47). At CVS, notebook prices were a bit higher ($5.49 to $8.29).
Rite Aid offered the most varied prices, with 70-sheet college rule notebook starting at $1.59 with a second one priced at 29-cents, to five-subject college rule notebooks priced at $13.99, buy one, get one free.
Only a handful of stores – Best Buy, Staples, Target, and Walmart – offered school briefcases, knapsacks or lunchboxes. Walmart offered $10 for a folder briefcase and $7 for lunch sacks and traditional lunchboxes. Target offered knapsacks between $20 and $50, and Staples had them for $50 to $100.
Concord NH Patch also took a look at two locally owned and operated stores that offered some Back to School necessities.
While the store didn’t sell notebooks or knapsacks, Imagination Village on North Main Street, had bundles of education aides, from workbooks to games to help children learn the skills they will need in school.
Another store, Rowland’s Studio, just down the block from Imagination Village, had everything needed for the student artist in your life, including drafting equipment, sketchbooks, and a great assortment of pens. If you’re also looking for high-end quill pens to put a bit of flair in your note taking, Rowland’s is the place to go.