Inflation drives up cost of back-to-school supplies

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Inflation has been an issue for years, but the pandemic-era problem is now driving the cost of school supplies to an all-time high.

“We know the pandemic changed a lot when it came to learning environments,” said Katherine Cullen, the vice president of Industry and Consumer Insights for the National Retail Federation. “During the pandemic, we know, of course, people did stock up on electronics. They adjusted to the norms of at-home and hybrid learning, but that spending on electronics hasn’t slowed since the end of the pandemic.”

As a result, the NRF expects consumers to spend record amounts on back-to-school shopping this year.

“Consumers are expecting to spend about $25 more than last year, to just under $900 on average, and total spending is up about 13% to $41.5 billion,” she said.

We asked some KOB 4 viewers how much they spent on school supplies this year. Some said their school districts helped them cover the cost. Most spent more than a hundred dollars, not including the cost of new clothes for school.

One woman said she spent close to $300 before tax-free weekend because it happened after school started this year.

“It is so hard right now, and to give you a sense of this, know that one, you’re not alone,” said Reilly White, associate professor of Finance at UNM. “So, when we look at families across New Mexico right now, school supplies are prohibitively expensive.”

White said there are ways for people to cut costs if they have not finished their back-to-school shopping yet.

“Set a budget and stick to it,” he said.

He also recommends not bringing children along for school shopping.

“Sometimes, kids can force you into buying things that they want rather than need,” White said. “Do not be afraid to have serious talks with your children about what you can and cannot afford for school supplies.”

White said he does not anticipate deflation happening anytime soon, so planning ahead for next year might help in the long run as well.