Back to school supplies remain in short supply – and parents are paying more for classroom items than last year.
Supply chain challenges and shortages are resulting in fewer back-to-school deals and scarce items like tech and apparel on shelves, consumer analysts explain.
Backpacks, clothing, sneakers, stationery, tech gadgets and laptops are expected to be in short supply, Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail said.
"It’s not so much that consumers won’t be able to get hold of these items at all, but that stock levels are reduced and there is less choice than in usual years. People may have to shop around more to find what they want. Prices are going up, both because of inflation and because inventory levels are down so retailers don’t need to discount as much to sell products," Saunders told FOX News in an email.
Families with children in grades K-12 will spend an average of $848.90 on school supplies, that’s almost $60 more than last year, according to a recent survey from National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. And the total back-to-school spending is slated to reach $37.1 billion.
Consumers will increase spending in every back-to-school category this year, especially with electronics and clothing seeing the most significant increases. Indeed, shoppers will shell out an average of $21 more on electronics this year compared with 2020 and nearly $20 more on clothes, according to the NRF. And with many classrooms still relying on virtual learning tools, 49% of consumers spending on electronics plan to buy a laptop, while 31% will purchase a tablet, according to the NRF.
"Consumers are spending more on items like electronics and clothing as they make plans for students to resume activities in person this fall," Prosper Insights executive vice president of strategy Phil Rist said in a statement. "For those in particular with children in elementary to high school, shoppers are putting the largest portion of their budgets toward electronics, new clothes, and accessories."
While more than half of consumers surveyed by the retail federation said they already started shopping for the new school year in July, 76% were still waiting to get school supply lists further delaying shopping.
Saunders says to reduce spending more money on supplies this year, consumers can compare prices outside of big-box retailers and try local retailers, sports specialists, and department stores for products like backpacks. He also suggests using online price monitoring and discount tools like Honey so shoppers can find the best time to buy or checking resale sites like thredUP, Mercari or Offerup.
"There are some good deals to be had in the secondhand part of the market," Saunders said.