Back-to-school shopping pricey from inflation. How are parents coping?

  • After two stressful, pandemic school years, parents looked forward to a normal year.
  • But instead, they’re dealing with a different stress: inflation.
  • Already squeezed by high food and fuel prices, parents now struggle with higher back-to-school costs.

Far fewer parents this year said they can afford their kids’ back-to-school shopping without any issues, likely a result of rising inflation and the end of the pandemic stimulus checks. 

Just 36% of the 2,178 U.S. parents surveyed said they can afford their kids’ back-to-school shopping, down from 52% last year, according to a recent Morning Consult survey, which also found that more than 37% of parents this year are stressed about back-to-school shopping – up from 32% last year.

Last year, parents benefited from stimulus checks and advance child tax credit payments, which have lapsed, and savings amassed during the pandemic.  

“Now, these savings are being depleted as the burden of inflation gets heavier,” Claire Tassin, Morning Consult retail and e-commerce analyst, said.  Morning Consult in May and June surveyed the parents of school-aged children planning to shop for the 2022-2023 school year. 

In the 12 months through June, consumer inflation rose 9.1%, the largest increase in more than 40 years.

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How does inflation affect back-to-school shopping?

School supplies are seen as a necessity so many parents are expected to cough up for them, even if they cost more this year. 

Since early May, the share of back-to-school shoppers planning to spend more than $500 on their children’s supplies has increased to 25% from 11%, much of that due to inflation, Morning Consult said. 

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