Press Release | The latest blogs, articles & guides from our best storytellers

Brisbane booklist breaking the bank: Research reveals the 23% price hike

Reviewed by expert, Phillip Portman
7 min read
29 Jan 2024

Families could be forced to fork out 23% more for items from their school booklist provider versus buying the individual items themselves from cheaper retailers this school year.

According to Compare the Market’s latest research comparing a Brisbane state school’s booklist cost, only 4 out of the 28 items analysed were cheaper on the list as opposed to elsewhere.

In this instance, parents and caregivers could save around $22 by shopping around – but this number could be a lot higher if they have multiple children or if they require several of the same items.

As we continue to face rising costs across the household budget, Compare the Market’s Phil Portman warned that many parents with children would feel the pinch when doing back-to-school shopping this year.

“It’s no secret that we’re seeing prices soar across the board for things like energy, groceries and even our insurance, but unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing much of a reprieve when it comes to those back-to-school essentials,” Mr Portman said.

“Of the items on the year 7 booklist we analysed, purchasing the same items elsewhere could save you on each item, which really adds up when there are so many essentials to purchase, or if you’re sending multiple children to school. These are things our school kids can’t go without and it’s undoubtedly going to put a lot of pressure on families who are already doing it tough.”

Booklist itemPrice on booklistOther retailersPrice differencePercentage difference
A4 Exercise Book 192p$4.00$1.25$2.7568.75%
A4 Exercise Book 128p$1.95$0.65$1.3066.67%
Glue Stick 40g UHU White$2.55$0.99$1.5661.18%
16gb USB Flash Drive$7.65$4.00$3.6547.71%
Ear Bud Earphones (with MIC)$5.50$3.00$2.5045.45%
A4 Display Book 20pkt$1.80$0.99$0.8145.00%
Marker Artline 200 Black (0.4mm)$2.99$1.98$1.0133.78%
Pencil HB Osmer Premium *Single*$0.26$0.18$0.0830.77%
Exercise Book 96p (9×7)$1.00$0.75$0.2525.00%
Sharpener 1 Hole Metal$0.47$0.36$0.1123.40%
Highlighter Osmer 6pk$5.75$4.43$1.3222.96%
A4 Sketch Book Spirax 534$3.25$2.53$0.7222.15%
A4 Office Pad Ruled 100 leaf$2.40$1.89$0.5121.25%
Scissors 155mm Osmer LEFT Handed$2.30$1.89$0.4117.83%
Pencil 2B Staedtler Tradition$0.64$0.53$0.1117.19%
Scientific Calculator Casio FX82-ES Plus$32.50$27.50$5.0015.38%
A4 Exercise Book 64p Writer Premium$1.18$1.03$0.1512.71%
A4 Exercise Book 96p Writer Premium$1.60$1.42$0.1811.25%
Ruler 30cm Plastic Clear$0.50$0.45$0.0510.00%
Scissors 155mm Osmer Right Handed$1.85$1.71$0.147.57%
16gb Micro SDHC Class 10 Memory Card with Adapter$8.25$8.00$0.253.03%
A4 Sheet Protectors 10pk$0.90$0.89$0.011.11%
Coloured Pencils Osmer 12’s (inc Gold)$2.50$2.50$0.000.00%
Pen Inkjoy Red Medium$0.38$0.47-$0.09-23.68%
Pen Inkjoy Blue Medium$0.38$0.48-$0.10-26.32%
Pen Inkjoy Black Medium$0.38$0.50-$0.12-31.58%
Eraser Large Faber Dust Free$0.69$1.00-$0.31-44.93%
Manilla Folder F/C BUFF$0.30$0.49-$0.19-63.33%

A Brisbane-based state school booklist was studied by Compare the Market in January 2024. The most expensive and cheapest costs were sourced from various websites and are accurate as of 02/01/2024.

Of the items analysed, the A4 Exercise Book 192p saw the most severe price hike, jumping 68.75% from an online retailer’s $1.25 to $4 on the school booklist.

A Glue Stick 40g UHU white, which is a staple in classrooms all around Australia – also saw its price jump by 61.18%.

Meanwhile, families could be forking out more on a scientific calculator that surged 15% from an online retailer’s $27.50 to the school booklist’s $32.50.

“A few dollars here and there may not seem like a big deal, but it can add up when doing a big back-to-school shop and especially if there’s more than one child off to school again,” Mr Portman said.

“Unfortunately, just as the cost-of-living crisis is hurting households, it’s also impacting businesses.

“We’ve seen supply chain issues continue as a result of  war overseas. In many cases, these businesses and retailers have no choice but to pass the expenses on to customers.

“While a booklist may make purchasing school essentials more convenient, it may not bethe most cost-effective option for families”.

Despite the grim outlook, Mr Portman said there were things families could do to make the back-to-school shop as affordable as possible.

“Just as many Australians have got into the habit of comparing items at the grocery store, their mortgage repayments and insurance bills, now’s the time for families to do the same when it comes to their kids’ school essentials,” Mr Portman said.

“It doesn’t make sense to pay more than you need to for these items and there are still ways you can snag a deal and claw back some cash before the bell rings for the first time this year.”

Mr Portman’s top tips for saving money this school year.

1. Compare prices
There are so many different brands of lunchboxes, drink bottles, pencils, backpacks and other school essentials – which can retail at different prices. Similarly, we know that stores can set their own prices for the exact same item, so it’s a great idea to do your research before hitting the shops and paying as little as possible. Don’t be afraid to shop at multiple stores if it’s going to leave more money in your pocket. If an item can do the same job and retails at a lower price, it may not make sense to pay more unnecessarily.

2. Shop wisely
Have you been gathering points through your grocery store’s rewards program? Are there any sales or specials happening at a particular store? Is your child entitled to student discounts on things like computers, digital subscriptions and more? There are always savings to be had, so ensure you’ve left no stone unturned when it comes to scooping up a bargain before the school year begins.

3. Buy in bulk
Some essential school items, like pens, pencils, glue sticks and erasers, can be cheaper to purchase in bulk or as part of a multipack. Buying in bulk can come in particularly handy if you’re sending several kids to school or if your child is prone to losing their items throughout
the year. Similarly, when it comes to school lunches, it’s often cheaper to buy snacks and fruits ahead of time than it is to buy them individually each day, so also keep this in mind.

4. Shop second-hand
When it comes to school uniforms, textbooks and even laptops and tablets, buying second-hand can be an easy way to keep your costs down and claw back some cash. Many schools will sell second-hand clothes and books, but also check out local Facebook Groups and online forums for families who may be selling school essentials their kids no longer require. If you need to buy new, consider purchasing an older computer or tablet, which could have a smaller upfront cost than more recent models. Some schools also allow students to rent these devices.

5. Protect big-ticket items with portable contents insurance
While your home and contents insurance policy may already cover your kids’ school items when they’re under your roof, portable contents coverage can keep portable items like school tablets or laptops that are taken outside your home insured against accidental loss or
damage. Always check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to ensure you’re aware of the terms of portable contents insurance through your insurer. If forking out to purchase a new iPad or computer would cause significant financial strain, this could be a viable option.

6. Reuse and recycle
Do those leather school shoes you purchased for your child last year still fit? Is there still life in their school uniforms? Do they already have pencils and other stationary essentials? Always make a list before hitting the shops, as you could be needlessly buying.

For more information, please contact:

Natasha Innes | 0416 705 514 |

Compare the Market is a comparison service that takes the hard work out of shopping around. We make it Simples for Australians to quickly and easily compare and buy insurance, energy, travel and home loan products from a range of providers. Our easy-to-use comparison tool helps you look for a range of products that may suit your needs and benefit your back pocket. 

Did you find this article interesting or helpful?
avatar of author: Natasha Innes

Written by Natasha Innes

Natasha Innes is a Media and Communications Advisor at Compare The Market. Natasha joins us after working as a journalist at the Courier Mail and Seven News. She graduated from Queensland University of Technology with a dual degree in Business and Journalism majoring in Public Relations.

[email protected]

Read more from Natasha