Families will spend an average of $864 on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That is actually slightly more than last year but significantly more than 2019.
According to the annual study, families spent $168 less in 2019 than in 2022. Andy Mattingly, Chief Operating Officer with Forum Credit Union, advises people to do more comparison shopping and only purchase what students need.
“The school may say you need 12 pencils,” Mattingly explained. “Well, they’re not going to use 12 pencils at the beginning so maybe you buy 6 now and you buy six later.”
According to the NRF data, boys and girls clothing has increased about 3% in the last three years, supplies have increased 4.5% and shoes have increased 10%.
Yet, people are buying more. Back-to-school spending has increased by about 41%. The NRF said more data will need to be collected before the agency knows how much of the total spending is linked to inflation.
Angie Reed is a mom of four. Her children all go to different schools, and they range in age from four to 15.
Reed said some school-related items are necessities, like new clothes.
“Especially in those elementary grades or when they have the big growth spurt in middle school,” Reed said. “Shoes is another thing, especially with boys. I feel like they blow holes in shoes very quickly.”
Reed said her family has decided to re-use some supplies from last school year and browse for sales.
“We looked through all our stuff, saw what we could reuse,” Reed said. “We made lists of the things that we still needed to buy. Then, we went to Target and we looked around, and while we were at Target, I looked on the app. You can see if it’s actually cheaper online Target and then they’ll price match it at the counter.”
Reed, a former teacher, also encourages parents who may not have the items on their child’s list on the first day of school to simply talk to the teacher about what is a necessity and when the item will first be used.