TOP STORIES Binders, backpacks... and inflation are on the shopping list...

Binders, backpacks… and inflation are on the shopping list this year.


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People shop for school supplies at a Target store in Miami, Florida on July 27.

Martha Lavandieu/AP

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Marthe Lavandieu/AP

People shop for school supplies at a Target store in Miami, Florida on July 27.

Martha Lavandieu/AP

While going to school for her three children, Stephanie Maddox recently picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer and noticed that it cost more than she remembered. She then looked at the bindings, finding fewer options, all with higher price tags.

“My budget is bigger this year… but it doesn’t seem to matter much,” says Maddox of Alabama. The deals are less like deals, she says, and more like the normal prices she’s used to seeing.

That’s how inflation works: you spend more, but you don’t get more. After months of pandemic worries, buyers now say higher prices their main concern as soon as the school season starts.

Spending on school clothes and supplies this year is approaching last year’s record of $37 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. The group estimates that families with schoolchildren will spend on average 864$or $15 more than last year.

Inflation hitting a 40-year high is a key driver of near-record spending this year, says Keisha Virtu, senior retail analyst at JLL, who survey of buyers returning to school. Almost half of the parents who participated in the JLL survey said they expected buy fewer groceries this year, planning to focus on the essentials because of inflation.


The NRF survey also found more families speaking they plan to skip the trip or dip into savings to pay for school supplies. More parents than before said they plan to reuse the materials they already have.

In general, American shoppers are still spending a lot of money on school supplies—certainly more than before the pandemic. In general, wages are rising, unemployment remains low, and people’s savings rates are relatively healthy. But financial anxiety is now a regular part of the experience.


“Maybe for the first time in my entire motherhood experience, I feel like I’m taking a break, buying simpler things that I didn’t even think about before,” says Mary Rinsburger, a teacher from Michigan. has triplets who are in 10th grade and another daughter is in senior grade.

As for the food that’s been hit the hardest by inflation, she’s still getting her regular fare, but may miss out on things that no longer seem worthwhile, like soft drinks or chips. “I just don’t think I’m going to like these Doritos knowing they cost more,” she says with a laugh.

Brands and retailers say they noticed people are starting to change the way they shop: choosing stores more often or waiting for discounts. Walmart is the best place in the US to shop before school, I say.t had to keep cutting prices on clothes and other unnecessary things to get people out of the food aisles.

In interviews, the parents say they are looking forward to the regular school year schedule and want to leave. pandemic era virtual school in the rearview mirror. But, of course, that also means budgeting for the extra expenses that come with it—long after school purchases have been made.

“There will be fees for costumes, royalties for musical instruments, excursions – all this was not there last year,” says Katya Banta from Texas, whose children go to 4th and 9th grades. “So, yes, this year I expect to pay more. But I also got back to work, we worked as many hours as we could work – that will also balance out, so I hope it will be ok.”

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