Back to school: Spending expected to be down 10% this year

While inflation officially hit two-year lows last month, according to Forbes, the Consumer Price Index still rose over the past year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just not as fast or high as expected.

School supplies, according to Deloitte, have increased in price by 23.7% over the past two years. Deloitte has conducted its annual back-to-school survey for the past 16 years.

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Despite the signals that the economy may be stabilizing, people are still having a difficult time when trying to balance their household budgets. Soon those budgets may be broken because the dreaded school supply lists will be out and they’ll have to yet again buy the scissors, crayons and dry-erase markers they get every year.

Deloitte however says families will not be spending as much as they have in years past, expecting that back-to-school spending for families with kids in grades K to 12 will be down 10% from last year, with an average of $597 per student.

The last time back-to-school spending was down was in 2014.

The back-to-school shopping period is expected to bring in $31.2 billion, down from the $34.4 billion spent in 2002, Reuters reported.

“Although parents were willing to endure higher prices last year for replenishing (back-to-school) items after the pandemic, 18 months of inflation have changed their tune,” Deloitte said in its report, according to Reuters.

Why are parents cutting back?

Parents cited both reduced disposable income and increased prices in the survey of about 1,200 parents with at least one child in grades K through 12, CNN and Reuters reported.

“Parents are likely to be strategic about their spending to help ensure children are set up for success at the start of the school year by renewing school supplies but perhaps holding off on new clothing until needed,” Nick Handrinos, Deloitte’s head of US retail and consumer products division, said, according to CNN.

Where will they shop?

Deloitte predicts that parents will be going to discount stores or dollar stores. They’ll also be looking for online deals.

What won’t they buy?

Deloitte predicts that spending for new school clothes and electronics will fall around 14% this year, with parents spending for necessities only, Reuters reported. But there will be an increase of about 20% in spending on school supplies the survey found.

“This back-to-school season is all about economizing. Consumers are looking to save by shopping early, searching out deals, prioritizing spend to essential school supplies ... they’re on the hunt for those bargains,” Stephen Rogers, executive director at Deloitte’s Consumer Industry Center, said.

When will they be done shopping?

About 60% of those polled hoped to have their back-to-school shopping done by the end of July, Reuters reported.

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