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Inflation has parents bracing for higher back-to-school spending: report

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Inflation has parents bracing for higher back-to-school spending: report

Nearly half the adults in the U.S. will be making back-to-school purchases this year, and they are preparing for a more significant bill due to inflation, according to fresh data.

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)’s Back-to-School 2023 Consumer Survey released Thursday found that parents are bracing themselves for higher prices, with 75% of respondents saying they plan on shelling out more for everything from school supplies to new clothes compared to last year.

Some 60% surveyed said they plan to increase their spending because of higher prices and inflation, up from 43% who said the same last year.

A cashier scans school supplies for a customer at a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. U.S. parents are overwhelmingly planning to increase back-to-school spending and shop at disc (Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Parents plan on spending an average of $969 on back-to-school items this year, up from $911 in the 2022 season. They expect to spend the most on electronics, at $260, but school supplies saw the largest increase from recent years at $168, an 18% jump from last year.

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ICSC’s latest survey found parents expect to spend an average of $233 on apparel, another $205 on furniture and $102 on sporting goods.

Nine out of 10 respondents told ICSC inflation and rising prices will influence their purchases this year, and seven out of 10 said they planned to shop at discount stores – up 5% from last year.

kids and parent shopping for school supplies

School-age children shop for back-to-school supplies with their mother, right, before starting the first and fourth grades, respectively, on July 25, 2022, at an OfficeMax in Lincoln Park. ICSC’s 2023 Consumer Back-to-School survey found parents plan (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images / Getty Images)

“The survey’s results show that consumers are still highly price-conscious and looking for deals and promotions, even as they plan to spend more on school-related items compared to last year,” ICSC president and CEO Tom McGee told FOX Business

“The majority of consumers cited inflation as the primary driver of that higher spending, and discount stores and other affordable retailers may benefit from consumers’ price sensitivity,” he continued. “Still, consumers remain remarkably resilient, and overall we believe this back-to-school season will be a successful one for retailers.”

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While inflation has eased to 3% from its peak of 9.1% last year, it remains above both the pre-pandemic average and the Federal Reserve’s 2% target rate after the central bank’s aggressive rate-hiking campaign to tame rising prices.

School supplies

School supplies are displayed at Stationery and Toy World in New York City ahead of back-to-school season, July 21, 2021. The ICSC says it expects retail growth to continue through the rest of 2023. (REUTERS/Joyce Philippe / Reuters Photos)

“While the Federal Reserve’s acts to curb inflation have impacted consumer activity by design, the core of the Marketplaces Industry is healthy and continues to grow steadily,” McGee said. 

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He added, “As inflation slows, the labor market remains strong, and many metrics show consumer confidence gradually increasing, we anticipate retail sales will continue their pace of growth throughout the rest of the year.”

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