The Rising Cost of Back-to-School Expenses Amidst Inflation

School supply checklist with school supplies and an apple.

Returning to school always means having a fresh look for most students. This has been the norm, but thanks to the current historical high inflation, parents have no means to secure the standard back-to-school packages. According to a 2022 report by Deloitte on back-to-school expenses, parents are spending an average of $661 per child for back-to-school shopping. This is an 8% increase from 2021 and a 27% increase from 2019. The major reason for the rise in price is the cost of clothing and accessories, which cost over 18% more this year. School supplies also add to the price with a 7% increase.

From these stats, it is not necessarily the parents buying more, but the costs of stuff have dramatically increased. Back-to-school shopping is the second largest spending time for families yearly, just behind holidays. Parents looking to prepare for this historical back-to-school shopping must also consider that most shelves remain empty, and the cost of getting the important stuff may still increase.

Comparing Commodity Prices

In 2021, most parents got $1,400 per qualifying dependent for coping with the increasing cost of commodities with the pandemic threat. They received an additional child tax allowance for half of the year. In 2022 though, parents have been left on their own.

About 33% of parents report experiencing a worst financial situation than the years before, including 2020, when COVID-19 was at its peak. Just 22% of parents say they are experiencing the same issues they faced in 2021 this year.

In 2022, people are dealing with high costs of necessities like groceries and gas. Back-to-school expenses are making it even worse to make a proper budget. But budgeting is not the only headache for parents right now. Most shelves remain empty as school supplies are still slow and expected to pick up in early July.

According to Deloitte's survey, about two-thirds of parents expect stores to sell out due to ongoing supply chain disruptions and high gas prices. Only 77% said they don't mind changing brands if their preferred ones sell out.

The Cost of Sustainable Purchases

The research on back-to-school expenses also found that parents are considering switching brands tailored to cater to new priorities like mental health and sustainability. This is mainly attributed to the increased regulation and awareness of sustainable living.

50% of parents in the survey feel concerned about their kid's mental health, while 33% are spending money to address this concern. From recent news, about 51% of parents have purchased extra-curricular activities like guitar or music classes. These are all attempts to improve health and well-being to address kids' mental health issues.

Another half of the population surveyed say they proactively look and purchase only from locations with sustainable products. But, this further comes at an additional cost. Averagely, sustainable shoppers spend 22% extra than other regular shoppers. Half of the parents who shop regularly say the cost difference is the major reason that deters them from going for eco-friendly choices.

Despite these increasing prices and the need for ways to save money, parents are looking forward to taking their kids back to school. This means being present and making regular visits to stores to shop.

In conclusion, the theme for most families this coming back-to-school season will be, "spend more money to look great."

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Surviving inflation is on top of everyone's mind, especially parents looking to take their kids back to school. It will not be easy as most shelves remain empty, and the cost of living continues to rise.


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