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4 Best Grocery Stores For Back to School Finds

There are tons of savings if you know where to look!

Of all the challenges borne from the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation is at the top of the list for most American consumers. And it makes sense why—the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has shown higher-than-average rates of increase for consumer goods over this past year. Specifically, food costs have gone up by 10 – 12% since last year, and gas costs—which have a significant impact on getting the groceries to your table—have surpassed 2021's prices by nearly 60%, as reported by the CPI's July 2022 summary report. Unfortunately, it's still an issue as the start of the school year inches closer and closer.

All the costs for supplies between the end of August and mid-September can add up quickly for families. According to data by Statista, the back-to-school costs per U.S. household from 2019 to 2022 rose by 24%, with the average this year estimated at $864.35. That's for anything from pens and binders to calculators and electronics.

With consumers already feeling the squeeze from all sides, is it possible to shop smarter for the back-to-school season? There are still ways to save, whether that's making multiple trips to take advantage of sales or shopping during tax-free weekends depending on your location. These five stores are offering deals to draw in customers, so browsing their shelves can help you get everything you need without breaking the bank.

RELATED: This Grocery Store's Name Brand Is Beating Out Costco, Trader Joe's, and Others

1

Walmart

walmart interior
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Maybe it's the surplus that's hitting retail as demand for non-essentials falls from pandemic peaks, but the big box store is offering rollbacks in every back-to-school category. Shop everyday low prices on school supplies, from crayons for preschool to dorm furniture for college. There are tech deals, too, like these affordable PC laptops. It even carries a list of items under $1, including folders, markers, mini composition notebooks, tape, scissors, and more. And when you're packing lunch boxes, you may want to slip in a fun treat, like these Minecraft Rice Krispies.

2

Target

target aisles
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If you're looking for a way to pay less for the stuff on your desk, Target has you covered with its own back-to-school shelves. You can find wide-ruled and college-ruled notebooks for 75 cents, colored pencils for 50 cents, and binders for 99 cents. Going bare-bones on some basics might let you stretch your dollars and pick up backpacks under $25, college deals, and up to 30% off electronics.

And of course, don't forget the snacks—Target has a whole selection of individually packed cookies and crackers for those mornings when you need to grab and go.

3

Costco

costco vitamin and supplement section
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Is it any surprise that the warehouse has thought of everything you'll need for the start of school? From office products to food storage to lunch essentials, buy in bulk and save the difference. And don't forget to check out member-only savings for extra-deep discounts. They offer coupons to bring prices down even more, like $5 off a variety pack with pens, pencils, markers, and glue sticks or a 24-count box of assorted Frito-Lay products. That's where you'll find the best deals.

4

Dollar General

Dollar General produce
Courtesy of Dollar General

The least expensive school supplies are going to be at the dollar store. Granted, not everything is just $1 these days, but Dollar General listed lots of back-to-school sales in the Weekly Ads. A few highlights: 3 for $6 on various cereal boxes, 25 cents off filler paper and kids' scissors, discounts on #2 pencils, cap erasers, and crayons, and $1 deals on colored pencils. You can even search for your nearest store to check if the items on your list are in stock at that location, taking the guesswork out of your school shopping hunt.

Sarah Wong
Sarah studied at Northwestern University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and experimented with mixing tech and journalism. Read more