Back to school: Almost everything costs more

2019, The newspaper had embarked on a bargain hunt with six companies to source twenty of the school supplies most demanded by schools at the lowest possible price. At the time, the ideal bill was just over $30. Three years later, a similar purchase tops $45 after visiting Staples, Walmart, and Jean Coutu. Here are some of our observations.

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Visit to the Three Great Banners on Tuesday, August 2nd The newspaper found large price differences between similar items.

The price of sharpeners with reservoirs varies from store to store. For example, the price difference between Walmart ($0.97) and Staples ($4.19) was more than $3.

For wooden pencils, this time Staples offers the most attractive price for boxes of 24 crayons at $2.79. Walmart is closer to $5.97 compared to Jean Coutu’s $3.99 for another brand on sale.

In 2019, more than one store offered these 24 pencils for $1.99 or less.

No bargains for school satchels

While almost all consumables are more expensive than in 2019, the increase in 2-inch ring binders was particularly pronounced. Three years ago, The newspaper found them for $2.99 ​​and all major chains were selling them for less than $6. This year the cheapest of found The newspaper were at Jean Coutu ($6.29). A similar product at Staples cost over $10.

More 10¢ duo tangs

They were in 2019 and they still exist: the $0.10 Duo-Tang.

Ironically three years ago The newspaper found them at Walmart and Staples. This year it was a Jean Coutu from Montreal who offered this “unbeatable” prize, according to Parsa Islam, a mother who met locally. In fact, the representative of protocol found that Walmart ($0.15) and Staples ($0.82) offered no less.


The newspaper visited three Montreal stores on August 2nd: Bureau en gros, Jean Coutu and Walmart. Pre-tax prices shown in store are in the same unit of measure as formats vary. For example, we find the price of a single duo tang even if they are sold in packs. Only the lowest price from each chain was used for comparison purposes, but some products were not available in all stores, which limited the selection. Prices may have changed between the time of review and the time the item was published.

Families bargain hunting

Parsa Islam, a mother of two, starts shopping for school supplies early, here at a Jean Coutu in Montreal.

Photo Clara Loiseau

Parsa Islam, a mother of two, starts shopping for school supplies early, here at a Jean Coutu in Montreal.

The hunt for discounts is on for many families hoping to find the best bargains so as not to overspend on supplies as the start of the school year approaches and everything gets more expensive.

“There are specials that are really interesting, but the problem is that teachers often have specific product requests […] which are more expensive,” explains Parsa Islam, mother of two children who will be going back to school in a few weeks.

Run the discounts

Even though families still have about 20 days left to enjoy the holidays, many are now starting to stock up to avoid running out of bills, especially in this context of inflation.

“I always shop with discounts, so as soon as I see products that are a little more expensive than last year, I wait a few weeks to find them cheaper elsewhere,” says Maya Bou-Samra, mother of two elementary school kids preparing to have to pay more this year.

As everything increases, Mme Islam also thinks that the price of supplies will weigh more heavily on the wallet this year.

“We used to be able to get by on $100 for two kids, but now it’s more, maybe $150, $200,” she says.

More than a business

Although they started filling their basket at Jean Coutu on Tuesday afternoon, these two moms know they’ll have to shop wholesale for more bargains later.

“Usually, when I go to multiple stores, I know I can find anything at a discount, so I’m not overpaying,” Frau Bou Samra.

The same story from the side of a mother of four who met at a Walmart in East Montreal.

“I really look at all the flyers and really go to the stores where I can find the cheapest products because sometimes there’s still a two or three dollar difference for the same product,” he explains.

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