Parents face rising prices for back-to-school supplies: ‘It’s a bit crazy’

Back-to-school races is one of the biggest seasons for retailers. This year, more than half of shoppers have already started buying supplies, but what they’re getting is a lesson in rising prices.

“It’s kind of crazy how prices have gone up so exponentially,” said Mary Elliott, a mother from Fort Worth, Texas.

“I looked at Target online for pencils and they’re almost $3,” Elliott added. “And you know, normally I saw them walking around the store for $0.50, so that was kind of shocking.”

Elliott is one of hundreds of parents lining up for free pencils, notebooks and paper. To help parents’ wallets, the Fort Worth School District plans to spend more than $4 million on school supplies, paid for with federal funds from the Biden administration’s U.S. bailout.

Industry experts say part of the reason for the price hike is that when COVID-19 shut down the country, the supply chain was put on hold – and retailers are still struggling to get back to business. normal.

“They have to pay for air freight rather than freight shipping to get things here on time,” said Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insights at the National Retail Federation. “And so these costs in terms of transporting goods have been a major concern for many retailers that we have spoken to.”

But soaring prices are not expected to slow spending. The National Retail Federation expects consumers to spend $37.1 billion on back-to-school supplies this year, up more than $3 billion from 2020.

With two elementary-aged boys, Erica Tice gets creative to save money on supplies because her job as a cafeteria worker won’t start until August.

“Use a lot of stuff from last year, recycle stuff, they’re gonna have mismatched crayons in bags and stuff, but it works,” Tice said.

On average, parents of K-12 students are expected to spend just over $848 per household on supplies. The biggest increase in spending this year is expected to come from electronics and clothing.

“You thought we bought all the laptops and tablets we needed last year, but no, consumers and schools are really driving digital learning,” Cullen said. “And so we see parents who are really considering buying these items.”

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