Back-to-school: Why are school supply prices rising?

National News

FILE – In this May 18, 2021 file photo, fifth graders wear face masks are seated at proper social distancing spacing during a music class at the Milton Elementary School in Rye, N.Y. As more children go back to the physical classroom, families are expected to spend robustly on a wide range of items, particularly trendy clothing for the critical back-to-school season, according to one key spending measure. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

(CBS) — Schools are opening their doors, and that has parents back-to-school shopping. But some people shopping for supplies are finding slim pickings.

Pandemic-related supply chain issues impacting hundreds of consumer goods are also leading to sporadic shortages of school-related items. And in places where shelves are stocked, shoppers are finding slightly higher prices because of inflation. “That doesn’t seem like a big deal when you look at it on an item-by-item basis, but when you get to check out and you’re shopping for multiple kids and paying for everything in your cart, parents are really going to feel that,” says Kristin McGrath, an editor with RetailMeNot.

McGrath says the most money is being spent on clothes and shoes ($491) followed by electronics ($447). “Schools release specific school supplies that every kid in the area is going to be needing. So, if you haven’t completed your shopping or you haven’t even started, now is the time,” she says.

The National Retail Federation predicts back-to-school shopping will hit a record $37.1 billion this year, with the average family spending $848.90

But it might not be so expensive for Carolyn Mushmel Tawil because her kids only did remote learning last year. “We have so many supplies from last year that we barely got to use, so we’re probably going to be able to use most of those,” she says.

Parents are split on where to shop. RetailMeNot says 52% are buying in stores, the other 48% are making purchases online.

The National Retail Federation says college students and their families plan to spend $1,200 on average.

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