A new survey by a global financial services company shows back-to-school supplies in the U.S. are rising faster than the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The survey by WorldRemit shows a basket of back-to-school supplies rising 28% year-over-year. The highest increase was in colored pencils.
CPI topped out at 9.1% year-over-year in 2022 and has since dropped to 3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But as the back-to-school survey shows, inflation is still uneven, with large declines in energy prices while rent and mortgages are still increasing rapidly.
The survey shows spending per child of $229.93 for school supplies, with an average household total of $423.07 in 2023.
In the U.S., that equates to about 9% of a family’s monthly income, said the survey.
The data was gathered June 21-27and echoes the results of another study by the accounting firm Deloitte.
The second study pegs inflation at 23.7% over a two-year period for back-to-school items, but covers a much larger basket of goods.
“Spending per child is expected to decrease 10% to $597 (compared to $661 in 2022),” said the Deloitte study. “Further, 68% of parents plan to spend the same or less YoY [year-over-year], with 51% of those planning to spend less citing reduced disposable income.”
Just over half of parents of school-aged kids anticipate a weakening economy in the next six months, with 31% of those surveyed saying that prolonged inflation has weakened their financial position.
That may be one reason why parents across the nation have been eager to embrace school choice measures.
While school choice programs have been touted as a way to pay for private school education, back-to-school supplies also qualify under some programs.
Some states, such as Florida, are also offering back to school tax holidays, including on school supplies purchases, learning aids and computers for non-commercial use.
Still, Deloitte says that parents have already burned through a ton of cash even before the back-to-school season starts.
“Parents are reacting by shopping earlier for deals (59% of the budget will be spent by the end of July versus 53% in 2022), and they’re choosing to pay with cash (77% versus 72% in 2022),” said the accounting firm.