colorful school supplies

Taking Inflation to School: How to Navigate Rising Prices Before Students Head Back to Class

Strong Forecast

Research from professional services network Deloitte suggests this year’s back-to-school shopping season could set records. Inflation is one factor influencing revenue projections, as retailers have raised their prices. Demand is also expected to be higher, in comparison to the past two years, when pandemic-related disruptions were common. More students are headed back to in-person class this fall, and they need new clothes and other supplies.

The potential for strong back-to-school sales is a welcome prospect for the retail sector, which has taken a hit in recent months due to inflation leaving some Americans increasingly cost-conscious. A survey conducted by Deloitte predicts spending for school-aged children will rise 5.8% in comparison to last year. Average spending per student is estimated at $661, which is 27% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Spending on Students

The National Retail Federation released data this week showing consumers have reduced spending elsewhere in an effort to free up cash for back-to-school shopping. The retail trade group says total spending should match up with last year’s $37 billion, which set a record.

Deloitte’s analysts have said some consumers are taking on debt and utilizing credit to pay for back-to-school items, while others are dipping into savings. People are also expected to do their shopping earlier than usual, likely due to lingering memories of empty shelves and supply-chain snarls.

Snagging Some Threads, Buying in Bulk

Experts in the fields of marketing and retail say around one in four consumers have already started their back-to-school shopping. In terms of finding discounts, some categories are more likely to be marked down than others. School supplies, electronics, and clothing may offer good deals. Many retailers have a surplus of clothes after rushing to keep up with demand and encountering delivery delays caused by the beleaguered supply chain.

Advisors suggest buying in bulk for back-to-school supplies and even potentially coordinating with other parents to do so. For example, it may make sense to purchase notebooks, pens, pencils, and tissues from Costco (COST) or Sam’s Club (WMT) and split the cost between several families.

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James Flippin ABOUT James Flippin James Flippin is the son of a financial advisor who grew up hearing and learning about bond yields, interest rates, the stock market, and the ins and outs of Wall Street. After stints as a licensing and business broker for Marcus and Millichap in New York City, James moved into broadcasting and became a reporter and anchor. He covered crime, politics, finance, and tech at NBC News Radio while working part-time as a producer for SiriusXM. James graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics. He's also an accomplished podcaster with over 10-years of experience.

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