Back to school is one of the most important seasons for traders. This year, more than half of buyers have already started buying supplies, but what they get is a lesson in rising prices.
“It’s kinda crazy just to see how the prices have gone up exponentially,” said Mary Elliott, a relative from Fort Worth, Texas.
“I looked at Target online for pencils and they cost almost $ 3,” Elliott added. “And you know, normally I saw them walking around the store for $ 0.50, so that was a little shocking.”
Elliott is one of hundreds of parents online 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, funded by federal funds from the Biden administration’s US 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 return to the normal.
“They have to pay for air freight rather than freight shipping in order to get here on time,” said Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer knowledge at the National Retail Federation. “And so these costs in terms of the actual transportation of the goods, that has been a major concern for many of the retailers we have spoken with.”
But the jump in prices should not 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-age boys, Erica Tice is getting creative to save money on supplies, as her cafeteria worker job won’t start until August.
“Use a lot of stuff from last year, recycle stuff, they’re going to have mismatched pencils 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 jump 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 leading digital learning,” Cullen said. “And so we see that the parents are really planning to buy these items.”