Returning to school after a summer break usually means a fresh look and new supplies for most students. But thanks to the highest rate of inflation in decades, the costs associated with back-to-school shopping have skyrocketed for parents. The high price of heading back to school is due significantly to the inflation America is seeing right now.

 

Back-to-school shopping is the second largest annual expense for most families, behind holiday spending. Parents usually budget for back-to-school shopping, just as they do for holiday shopping. But budgeting will be different this school year: parents will spend hundreds of dollars over and above what they spent in previous years as they face the rising costs of clothes and supplies.

 

According to a 2022 Deloitte survey, parents of K-12 students will spend an average of about $661 per child for back-to-school shopping this year. This is an increase of 8% from 2021 spending and 27% from 2019 spending. And the National Retail Federation (NRF) conducted its own similar survey which found that families will spend $864 on average, which is $168 more on average than in 2019, with total spending up $11 billion. The NRF survey found that 38% of consumers said they are cutting their spending in other areas to cover the costs for new school clothes and supplies in the upcoming year; and total spending for college-aged students returning to classes is expected to reach close to $74 billion, up $3 billion from last year’s record spending.

 

But parents should not panic: back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to bankrupt them. There are budget-friendly ways to shop for school supplies. The first step is to take inventory of what they already have in the home. Many people overlook supplies from previous school years that went unused, but knowing what is already on hand is key when it comes to saving money. Secondly, actively hunting for bargains can yield even more savings. The best way to find these bargains is to do some research to find sales. Some stores publish these sales on their websites and social media pages; or printed flyers might arrive in the mail or local newspaper. Also, using coupons and buying in bulk can help parents save money, too.

 

The costs for back-to-school shopping are expected to reach new heights due to inflation this year, but the high price of heading back to school can be mitigated. Parents can shop with savings in mind, seeking out deals, shopping on tax-free weekends (in states that have such), and asking local school districts about ways to get discounted and/or free supplies (e.g., school supply drives, etc.). If they use their resources wisely and are more conscious than ever of the purchases that they make, they will be able to get their children what they need to start the year on the right foot.

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