Inflation might be cooling, but some parents are worried it'll make back-to-school shopping harder

Inflation might be cooling, but some parents are worried it'll make back-to-school shopping harder
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  • Year-over-year inflation may have cooled in July, but high prices are still affecting consumers.
  • A new Bankrate survey shows that some people think inflation may affect their school-related shopping.

High inflation is pushing some Americans to find coupons and check out sales when doing their back-to-school shopping.

Although inflation may be coming down from its peak, a new Bankrate survey suggests that some US adults think inflation will have an effect on how they shop for school-related expenses and items amid high prices.

This is especially the case for those part of middle-income households, defined as those making between $50,000 and $99,999, as the middle-income is one group feeling squeezed by inflation.

"I think that while inflation has made it harder, broadly speaking, I think the biggest shift has been the middle-income crowd that used to be feeling if not fully comfortable or fully financially secure, at least better about things," Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at, told Insider.

According to the Bankrate survey conducted by YouGov from July 13 to July 15, 41% of those planning to do some school shopping said inflation will change how they shop. Just over half — 53% — of adult respondents who plan to do some school shopping and are in households that make between $50,000 and $99,999 said this, a larger share than those with higher or lower incomes.


"Certainly there's a cumulative effect to a lot of this stuff that it's not just back-to-school shopping, but it's groceries, it's gas, it's rent. It's all these other things that are squeezing the household budget," Rossman said. "But I think that the middle income are really feeling it more for those reasons. That this is kind of a new phenomenon that it didn't used to be this hard to afford new clothes and school supplies, and this year for all those reasons it just feels that much harder."

The National Retail Federation's annual back-to-school survey also shows people are having to adjust their back to school shopping habits, where 38% of consumers said they're cutting back in other areas to cover these costs. Just under 20% said they are working overtime or working more hours to cover school-related costs.

But school spending for families is estimated to still be very high.

"Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $864 on school items, approximately $15 more than last year," a press release from the National Retail Federation said. "Back-to-school spending has increased dramatically since the onset of the pandemic, as families adjusted to changes from virtual and hybrid learning."

Another back-to-school survey from JLL Retail Research also suggests people will look for ways to save as a result of inflation.


"Predictably, our survey results show most parents plan to use multiple cost-saving methods to allay the effects of inflation," James Cook, director of Retail Research at JLL, said. "More than half of shoppers will look for sales and coupons, discounters will remain the most popular retail type and free shipping or delivery will be the most important determinant of where to shop online."

"The biggest thing that people are doing is they're trying to find more coupons and discounts and sales," Rossman said based on the Bankrate survey results.