In a new survey from Deloitte, parents are planning to trim down their spending budgets on back-to-school items by 10 percent this year, with an average cost of $597 per student. In the last two years, the prices of school supplies have risen roughly 24 percent. Many parents plan to focus on restocking their children on essentials such as school supplies, and holding off on nonessentials such as tech and apparel. “Although parents were willing to endure higher prices last year for replenishing BTS items after the pandemic, 18 months of inflation have changed their tune,” Deloitte said. “Uneasiness about the economic situation is creating price sensitivity and causing parents to reassess how they’ll approach shopping for the upcoming school year.”

Inflation is a main factor for the surge of prices. Thirty-one percent of parents surveyed said their households are in a worse financial situation than they were last year, while 51 percent expect the economy to weaken in the next six months. According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the annual inflation rate in June dropped 3 percent. Although the rates have improved, many essentials continue to be priced at a higher rate, including school supplies. “Consumers will likely prioritize where they spend money as they look to replenish their savings accounts and spend on experiences, such as summer vacations, over goods,” said Nick Handrinos, the head of Deloitte’s U.S. retail and consumer products division. “Parents are likely to be strategic about their spending to help ensure children are set up for success at the start of the school year by renewing school supplies but perhaps holding off on new clothing until needed. It’s not all bad news for retailers with many parents willing to splurge on certain items to treat their children, which may provide an opportunity for retailers.”

With parents of K-12 students plan to spend less on school supplies this year, parents of college students are projected to spend more. In a survey by the National Federal of Retailers (NFR) and Prosper Insights & Analytics, College students and their families are projected to spend an average of $1,366 per person as compared to $1,199 from last year. “Even though consumers plan to spend more on school and college-related items this year, they are still looking to find the best value and deals,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “Consumers are stretching their dollars by comparing prices, considering off-brand or store-brand items, and are more likely to shop at discount stores than last year.”

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