Inflation causing school supplies sticker shock for parents

A parent shops for school supplies at a Target store, Wednesday, July 27, 2022, in North Miami, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

RALEIGH — Parents finding some sticker shock while shopping for school supplies this year as inflation under the Biden administration has hit a forty-year high of 9.1%. 

According to the world’s largest retail trade association, the National Retail Federation (NRF), back-to-school spending this year will surpass $37 billion, and will at least match 2021’s record $37.1 billion. NRF’s 2021 estimate was up by $3 billion over 2020. 

NRF expects parents of elementary school students to spend $16 more than they did in 2021 for an average of $864. In 2021, NRF estimated average spending of around $848, which was $59 more than was spent in 2020. 

“Back-to-school spending has increased dramatically since the onset of the pandemic, as families adjusted to changes from virtual and hybrid learning. Compared to 2019, back-to-school shoppers are expected to spend $168 more on average, and total spending is up $11 billion,” a July 14 NRF press release says. 

According to NRF, a survey on school supply items showed a majority (68%) said they have seen higher prices on school items with clothes, accessories, and school supplies among the top items consumers saw higher prices.  

The contrast in current spending is sharp when compared to NRF’s estimates for 2014’s $26.5 billion for K-12 back-to-school supplies; an average of just over $669 per child. 

Parents shopping in typical places like Walmart may find some deals on items like folders, notebooks, and art supplies such as crayons and colored pencils. 

Prices at Walmart locations in Wake County turned up a sale on 24 packs of Craz-art crayons for 34 cents, marked down from 74 cents. In contrast, the same size of Crayola brand crayons cost $2.74. 

On Amazon, a 24 pack of Craz-art crayons can be found for $1.54 and the same size Crayola set of crayons is found at a low starting at $5.25 and a high of almost $6.40. 

Picking up standard supplies like glue and scissors also adds up with glue packs costing over $4 and a single set of scissors ranging from $1.47 to over $2 depending on size and type.  

A 12 pack of generic Number 2 pencils was found on sale for 47 cents while a 10 count of BIC pens was marked down to 97 cents from $1.57.  

Folders of various types were found at the low end of 50 cent to $1.48 up to a maximum of $2.18.  

Seeing if one can reuse an old notebook may be a good way to shave off a few dollars as single subject notebooks were priced anywhere from $1.26 to $2.64 depending on the brand.  Varieties of composition notebook prices cost anywhere from 50 cents up to $2.24.  

Binders of all sizes were one of the costliest items found. One-inch binders cost between $1.24 and $2.34. The prices were similar on Amazon for binders of this size but finding a single binder in stock instead of a multi-pack might be a challenge. 

For a three-inch binder, the price typically came in at between $6 and $7.64.  The same 3-inch binders on Amazon are regularly priced at between $14 and $19 dollars and Amazon’s own brand were in the middle range, currently priced at around $16.50. 

About A.P. Dillon 747 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_