Surveys: Families expect to pay more this year for back-to-school shopping

Jul 18, 2022, 6:45 PM | Updated: Jul 26, 2022, 3:01 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Two new surveys reveal that parents plan on spending more on back-to-school shopping this year because of surging inflation.

The annual survey from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics showed that total back-to-school spending is expected to match last year’s record of $37 billion.

“We are seeing real shifts in the way people are shopping and spending on back-to-class items since before the pandemic. As a result, retailers are also shifting by bringing in inventory earlier and extending back-to-class offerings,” stated Phil Rist, Prosper Insights’ executive vice president of strategy, in a press release.

Parents with children in elementary through high school indicated that they plan on spending an average of $864 this year on back-to-school supplies, the survey said. That’s $15 more than last year and $168 more than in 2019.

“Back-to-school spending has increased dramatically since the onset of the pandemic, as families adjusted to changes from virtual and hybrid learning,” the National Retail Federation said in a press release.

Planned back-to-school spending over the years. (NRF)

One-third, or 38%, of the 7,830 consumers who responded to the survey said that they are cutting back spending in other areas of their budgets so that they can pay for school shopping.

“Families consider back-to-school and college items as an essential category, and they are taking whatever steps they can, including cutting back on discretionary spending, shopping sales and buying store- or off-brand items in order to purchase what they need for the upcoming school year,” said a prepared statement from NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

A separate survey from Deloitte Insights found that inflation is expected to increase back-to-school spending to $661 per child this year. That’s an 8% increase from last year and a 27% increase compared to 2019.

The Deloitte survey also showed that 57% of families are concerned about inflation’s impact on items needed for school and that 33% of families reported that their household’s finances have deteriorated since last year.

This year’s back-to-school shopping season comes as inflation in the U.S. just hit a new, four-decade high.

US inflation reached a new 40-year high in June of 9.1%

“Where inflation really has a detrimental impact is on those lower-income, those middle-to-lower-income families and it really is like a new tax that we didn’t anticipate, we didn’t prepare for,” said Zions Bank senior economist Robert Spendlove.

Utah and other Mountain West states are experiencing inflation that’s higher than the national average, Spendlove said, adding that Utah has the largest household size in the country.

“So we have just generally a lot more kids in our state than other parts of the country, so it becomes even more important for families to pay attention,” Spendlove said.

With back-to-school shopping being one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year and families battling higher prices, Spendlove advises making a plan and budget before going to the store. He also said it’s a good teaching opportunity to involve children in the shopping process.

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Surveys: Families expect to pay more this year for back-to-school shopping