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Back-to-school shopping lists hit by inflation spikes

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Posted at 8:04 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 22:45:59-04

DENVER — It’s back-to-school season, and inflation is driving up the cost for families as they get ready for the new school year.

The National Retail Federation says families with kids in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $864 on school supplies, which is $168 more than they spent in 2019.

“I haven’t even started [shopping],” said Wheat Ridge mom Gina Sturm. “I haven’t even prepared, because it’s just — the budget is barely there. The budget is barely there.”

Sturm told Denver7 she’s been cutting corners as best she can all summer to prepare for her middle school daughter’s back-to-school needs, but gas and groceries alone have left her in a tough spot.

“I would find myself constantly trying to find the cheapest deal, or find flyers or advertisements to help save and try to really catch those deals when you can,” Sturm said.

Finance website The Balance crunched the shopping list numbers, and confirmed what parents are feeling — that inflation is hitting their wallets hard.

“Honestly, just about everything is going to be more expensive when it comes to the back-to-school shopping,” said editor-in-chief Kristin Myers.

Some key items are especially high currently amid supply chain issues and high demand, according to data from The Balance. Expect to pay more as you pack your kids’ lunches, with lunch meat up 18% compared to last year. Sports equipment is 8% more, and music instruments are 6%. You’ll also feel the pinch with new clothes, particularly if you’re shopping for in the boys section. Boys' clothes are up 7%, compared to 2% for girls' clothes.

“If you are someone who perhaps has less income, has less savings, if your income hasn't risen at all over the last two years, what we do see is that you now have to spend more, and more of that paycheck, more and more of your income on things that you have to buy,” Myers said. “That's really where the concern lies for those Americans and for those households that don't really have the savings, or don't have increasing wages to really handle some of these higher rates of inflation.”

Back-to-school shopping lists hit by inflation spikes

To help make ends meet, several organizations are stepping up to help. Sturm and her family are getting ready for school thanks to Hope Connection & Community in Arvada, which helps students get the supplies and clothing they need to feel their best.

“They provided book bags filled with some basic needs and supplies, and then each child was given a gift card to go shopping,” said Sturm, whose children also participated last August before school. “As a mom, it was just very rewarding. Like, I was glad that somebody was there to reach out to.”

Hope Connection & Community operates on donations, and is preparing for this year’s school shopping spree on August 14. Arvada Vitality Alliance has pledged to match donations up to $4,000 for a limited time. If you would like to donate, you can visit its website.

Denver7 is also distributing school supplies collected during our Pack-A-Backpack campaign. Families can collect school supplies during the following days:

  • Friday, Aug. 5 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Salvation Army, located at 3900 E. Arapahoe Road in Centennial
  • Monday, Aug. 8 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at The Salvation Army Aurora Corps, located at 802 Quari Ct. in Aurora