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Back-to-school shopping hasn’t been easy this year for Lauren Cyr.

mother of three has discovered Shop for deals and spread your purchases across multiple paychecks. Still, the 31-year-old is seeing higher prices Everything from backpacks to papers — and the summertime ritual is stretching her family’s budget more than in years past.

“I’ll tell you, before I went shopping, I had a complete panic attack and I cried,” said Cyr, a customer service manager who lives in Ruskin, Florida. “It’s just a headache.”

Cyr is not alone. The average family with children in elementary through high school is planning to spend a record $890.07 on back-to-school items this year. A survey of over 7,800 consumers was released last month by National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Total spending on school-related items for students in these grades is expected to reach a new high of $41.5 billion.

There is one silver lining, however: According to NRF data, back-to-school buyers were less likely to say they’re spending more in 2023 than in 2022 because of higher prices. instead, Consumers have reported that oversupply and buying high priced items has contributed to spend more this year.

Still, rising costs could hit millions of Americans hard as they try to stuff the bags of kids heading back to school this year. Although inflation has largely slowed down, consumers may not feel any respite as the prices of school supplies are still on the rise.

“For the average family, it’s going to be a big blow,” said Jay Zagorski, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

He said that the shopkeepers should not insist on buying any particular item or brand when the prices increase. “By being flexible in what you’re buying, you really can come away with both a happy baby and a happy wallet.”

CNBC used the Producer Price Index — a closely followed gauge of inflation at businesses as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics — to track how commonly purchased items for students will cost between 2019 and 2023. Has changed. The PPI data breaks down the variable costs of specific items through a sample of wholesalers.

Those producers can then pass on the additional costs to consumers in the form of smaller products or higher prices.

from retailers Difference To Kohl’s Trying to woo consumers with deals as prices go up. walmart said it has kept school supply baskets at the same prices as last year by offering common items like backpacks starting at $6. Target Kickstarted the back-to-school season in early July with a special sale for its loyalty program customers.

Federal data is not an accurate representation of changes in spending, as the amount customers pay can vary by brand, store or location. According to Zagorsky, prices may not exactly match the path of inflation because products are created and ordered by retailers months before the back-to-school season begins.

But federal data can provide insight into how much more consumers across the country are paying for key items as kids head back to class.


The two data points measure the changing cost of paper.

First, there’s the classic writing and printing paper. There are also paper tablets and pads.

Prices of both fell quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic before rising. Paper producers’ costs in June 2023 were about 24% higher than the same month four years ago, while tablets and pads cost 33.1% more during that period.

Stationery, Art & Office Supplies

The cost of products like gum and pencils are also increasing.

Inflation in pens, markers and mechanical pencils, as well as parts attached to these products, has reached a peak. But the prices in June 2023 were 13% higher than the same month in 2019.

The inflation rate for a set of items that includes lead pencils and other supplies commonly used for offices and the arts has risen similarly. prices went up 23.2% from June 2019 to June 2023.


Perhaps even the most coveted symbol of a student is more expensive to make.

backpack prices Smaller increases than other commodities, but they are still 10.5% higher in June 2023 than the same month in 2019.

— CNBC’s Gabriel Cortes and Melissa Repko contributed to this report.

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