Back-to-School Season: Parents Told to Prepare for Rising Costs

Photo: (Photo : Bruno Germany/Pixabay)

As families begin shopping supplies for the back-to-school season in the U.S., some parents are surprised to see that prices for notebooks, crayons, clothing, and other necessities have increased.

Mom Mary Elliott from Texas told CBS News that the changes in prices had been "kind of crazy" when she checked at Target's online site. She noted that crayons now cost $3 when those normally sell for $.50.

Elliot's family will benefit from Fort Worth School District's free pencils, notebooks, and paper supplies distribution, funded under the American Rescue Plan of the Biden Administration. However, some families will still struggle with the rising cost of the back-to-school season because the retail industry has yet to normalize.

According to some retailers, COVID-19 has driven the price of school supplies upward because of problems in the supply chain due to border closures and lockdowns. Katherine Cullen of the NRF Industry and Consumer Insights said that suppliers are paying more for the cargo so that the orders will arrive in time for the school shopping rush.

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Families in K-12 are expected to spend more than $848 in school supplies this year, a $60-increase compared to 2020. Even with the government subsidies, the general cost of back-to-school shopping could rise to $37.1 billion from $33.9 billion last year.

A Return to Tradition

consumer survey in May 2021 from accounting firm KPMG showed that 32 percent of parents in preschool have anticipated that they will spend more this school year. Some believe that many retailers will not be offering discounts to recoup losses due to the pandemic.

The parents also foresee that the demand for supplies will also be higher than a year ago when most children had online classes and didn't need new supplies. Most families will be spending more on new clothes and shoes this year but less on electronics.

The survey also revealed that parents are quite excited to go back-to-school shopping with their kids inside stores, after last year's limitations, as this is an essential tradition for many families. Some 57 percent of the respondents said they are looking forward to browsing the shop's aisles for school supplies, while 44 percent said they still prefer online shopping.

At least a third of the parents said that they would do their school supplies shopping in July (33 percent) or August (30 percent), while a small number of moms and dads have finished their shopping last June.

Retailers Offering Discounts for Teachers

Meanwhile, some major retailers are giving discounts to teachers who will also need to stock up on school supplies. At Target, the annual Bullseye's Teacher Prep Event has been reactivated from July 18 to July 31, allowing teachers to shave off 15 percent on their purchases if they are members of the Target Circle Rewards Program. This will also be applicable for online purchases.

Michael's also offers 15 percent for teachers who shop at their stores for the whole school year. To be eligible for this promotion, they must undergo a verification process using their Michael's account. They can apply for an account in-store or online.

Stores like Staples and Barnes and Noble are giving teachers 20 percent off if they sign up for the store's respective teacher's program on the website or the app. Look for Classroom Rewards for Staples and B&N Educator for Barnes and Nobles.

Dollar General offers the highest discount at 30 percent, which will begin on September 6. The teacher will need to undergo a verification process as well.

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