Believe it or not, August is upon us, which means kids are going back to school soon! For many, August brings a fresh start, often signaled by new haircuts, clothes, and school supplies. Even when I was in college, one of my favorite things about each new semester was making my school supply list and thoughtfully picking out and color-coordinating supplies.  

But these new things cost money. According to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), fortunately, school supplies are down 2.7% compared to last year, but backpacks are up 3.8%. Toys, games, and playground equipment are up 3.1%. And last year’s prices were elevated from 2021 prices.

Families picking out new school clothes for their kids will spend 4.2% more on girls’ clothes and 3.6% more on boys’ clothes than in 2022. 

Tuition, school fees, and child care are up 3.4%, and school lunch from home is up 4.9%. Thankfully, gas to get to school is down 26.5%.     

A recent Deloitte report found that back-to-school spending for K-12 children is expected to fall this year for the first time in nine years. The average cost per child will fall to approximately $597 as families will likely spend 10% less this year. But school supplies are expected to see a 20% increase in spending. Shoppers are prioritizing school supplies over new clothes and tech items. 

According to Deloitte, these changes are largely due to inflation. The study reported that the cost of school supplies in the past two years has increased by 23.7%. About a third of households say they are in a worse financial situation than last year, and many have lost hope in the economy with over half expecting the economy to decline in the next six months. 

As Stephen Rogers, the managing director of Deloitte’s Consumer Industry Center said, “So parents who say they’re spending more and parents who say they’re spending less, both blame inflation for that … So that’s also a curious place where we find ourselves. Inflation is definitely top of mind for everyone.”

Additionally, the U.S. News & World Report found that three-quarters of Americans anticipate the costs of sending kids back to school will be a challenge. 

With inflation top of mind, most consumers are shopping earlier and on sales days, according to the National Retail Federation. This back-to-school season, most families are looking to save money and search for good coupons and deals. Amazon Prime Day was a big day for back-to-school shoppers, but many also like to buy their items in person.

For these shoppers, some states have state sales tax holidays for school items. Some holidays have already passed, but most are in August. For a list of the dates and items included in 2023 visit here.   

Many outlets, such as Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Costco, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, DoorDash, Kohl’s, Walmart, and Staples, have back-to-school deals that parents can utilize. 

This back-to-school month, inflation is directing many families’ shopping decisions. Households are getting creative, shopping for the essentials, and watching out for deals. Thankfully, sales days, state sales tax holidays, and deals are helping families save a dollar.