Salute to the great American consumer as America’s children prepare for the first day of school.
It’s one thing to cut back on family vacations, new cars, and even steaks. But when it comes to back-to-school shopping, Americans are not.
As next month’s school bell is about to ring, parents have made it clear that sharp inflation won’t stop them from spending the money necessary to get their kids ready for the new school year.
Spending on back-to-school shopping events is expected to hit an all-time high, with families spending as much as $34.4 billion for K-12 students, or about $660 per student, according to a new study by Deloitte.
Meanwhile, back-to-school spending is expected to hit $28.3 billion, or about $1,600 per college student.
“This is the case, as more than half (57%) of back-to-school shoppers surveyed are concerned about inflation, although many remain determined to buy the supplies they need, which could increase spending per student,” the Deloitte report said. Up to 8%.” .
After a two-year hiatus caused by the covid-19 pandemic, parents are also bracing for a more normal approach to shopping for the upcoming school year, the report noted.
“Despite economic and inflationary pressures topping the list, parents appear to be resilient and determined to ensure their children have the school supplies they need to be successful in the coming year,” said Nick Handry, head of U.S. retail, wholesale, distribution and consumer goods Nick Handrinos said. Deloitte LLP.
“Retailers staying conscious of this determination, while paying attention to addressing the shopper’s ongoing economic problems, can earn trust and position themselves firmly.”
Parents cut other household spending
Another study from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics shows that American households are balancing the demand for back-to-school supplies against the reality of inflation by cutting household budgets in other areas.
“Families see back-to-school and college supplies as an essential category, and they are taking all possible steps, including reducing discretionary spending, shopping sales, and buying in-store or off-brand items to buy what they need for their upcoming the school year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.
“The back-to-school season is one of the most important shopping events for consumers and retailers, second only to the winter holidays.”
As they do during winter break, shoppers start early to find the best deals and help allocate their budgets. As of early July, more than half (56%) of shoppers had already started shopping for school and college supplies, NRF reported.
Retailers are more than happy to collaborate, and many stores have expanded their back-to-school schedules to better accommodate high-spending but discerning parents.
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“Since before the pandemic, we’ve seen a real change in the way people shop and buy back-to-school items,” said Phil Rist, vice president of strategy at Prosper Insights.
“As a result, retailers are also shifting by introducing inventory earlier and expanding back-to-school offerings.”
There are a number of ways American families on a tight budget can save on school and still get good value for their money.
“There’s no question that people will be shopping around, looking for as many discounts and bargains as they can,” said Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at Lending Tree.
“It should be easier now because brick-and-mortar stores are mostly back, but the truth is people are going to need to adjust their expectations and their budgets. That’s because even the stuff in the bargain bin can be more expensive than it was a year ago. “
Before you visit stores and digital shopping platforms, it’s a good idea to communicate with your family about any budget concerns.
“You don’t have to open your book and get them tired of taking an economics class,” Schultz told TheStreet. “Just share with them that a lot of the things you buy these days are getting more expensive in order to afford school for your kids. All that is needed, the family may have to make some sacrifices.”
For example, mom or dad can ask kids what their top priorities are and then adjust back-to-school spending accordingly.
“Maybe they like having a cool backpack, but don’t care about the lunchbox at all,” Schultz points out. “Involving them in decision-making can alleviate some of the pain of the tight budget issue.”
Schultz also offers these back-to-school shopping tips.
Don’t be afraid to reuse things. Not everything has to be replaced every year. “If your child can get another year out of an item, try it,” he says.
Hand-me-downs can help. Whether they’re from big brothers or sisters or from friends and family who’ve grown up, second-hand items can save parents money. “It’s not just clothes,” Schultz added. “Think lunch boxes, backpacks, notebooks, etc. If they’re still in good shape, don’t be afraid to put them to good use.”
Credit card rewards can help you stretch your budget. With inflation on the rise, 1% or 2% cash back makes sense for people, and credit card sign-up bonuses are helpful too.
“Many cards will offer $100 or more back if you spend between $500 and $1,000 in the first few months of using the card,” Schultz said. “If you’ve already saved up cash to help with your back-to-school spending , use your credit card to make purchases and use the savings to quickly pay off your credit card bill.”
“That way, you can take advantage of this big signing bonus without taking the risk of going into debt,” he added.