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Inflation affects cost of back-to-school supplies


As students grab their backpacks filled with school supplies and head back into the classroom, inflation continues to affect family budgets and the cost of basic school supplies.

Katherine Bullen, senior director with the National Retail Federation (NFR), says families can expect to spend hundreds of dollars.

"Families with kids in elementary through high school are expecting to spend around $684 on average, that's about $15 more than last year," Bullen said.

This year, the NFR estimates shoppers in the U.S. will spend $36.9 billion on back-to-school supplies compared to $37.1 billion last year.

Certain supplies have seen a larger increase in price than others. The price of 3M's Scotch-branded tape increased by 69% this year compared to 2021. Two school supply essentials, Sharpies and Elmer's Glue, are up 55% and 30% this school year, according to Brian Mandelbaum, CEO of Klover, a consumer data company.

Clothes for the new school year are also costing families more than last year. Mandelbaum says the cost of a JanSport backpack is 2% higher, Nike shoes have jumped 12%, while Hanes underwear is up 6.4%.

One item not affected by inflation is Crayola crayons. Mandelbaum says the prices for Crayola crayons have decreased year-over-year.

In a back-to-school survey conducted by Deloitte, 37% of shoppers said they expect to spend more on back-to school supplies. Meanwhile, 77% of shoppers say they will change brands if prices are too high.

Despite higher inflation, experts say there are still ways to save.

"The best way to do that is to set a budget, but then also whenever you go out shopping be prepared even before you go. Look at different retailers and look at what items you need and where you can find it the cheapest," Sarah Wetzel with the Better Business Bureau said.

Wetzel also says to ask stores if they offer a student discount.

"Sometimes you just have to offer your student i.d or if you have an e-mail address with a edu, they'll give you that student discount," Wetzel says.

The Better Business Bureau also recommends shoppers research big-ticket items, take advantage of sales and tax-free weekends and consider buying in bulk.

If you want to save on last-minute supplies, the Columbia Powerhouse Community Development is hosting a back-to-school bash Friday from 2:00 p.m to 6:00 p.m.

Children that attend the event can get free school supplies, haircuts and health screenings.

Article Topic Follows: Education

Erika McGuire


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