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Surging school supply costs affect families as new school year approaches

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As families prepare to head into a new school year, rising school supply costs due to inflation are affecting their wallets. According to the National Retail Federation, more than a third of U.S. families said they’re reducing spending in other areas in order to cover school supply costs this year. 

“It’s hard because a lot of the companies have increased their prices alone in this calendar year five times,” Kelly Zawisza, who owns a school supply store, told CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz. “What’s happening is through the pandemic, they shut down a lot of the mills so now there’s a shortage.”

Zawisza said this year has been the most expensive back-to-school season she’s seen for both parents and teachers. 

And she isn’t wrong. 

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Back-to-school spending in total is expected to match the record high set in 2021of $37 billion, according to
the federation, which found that families with children in elementary school through high school are expected to spend an average of $864 on school items this year — approximately $15 more than last year. 

“The prices have increased ridiculously,” one parent of a daughter who is about to start first grade told Diaz. “For a few school supplies, you’re easily going to spend around $70.”

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And the high costs may be here for a while. Last month, the Federal Open Market Committee and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System predicted that inflation in the country would “likely stay uncomfortably high for some time.” 

So Kelly Glass, editorial director of the parenting publication Kindred by Parents, advises families to “pre-shop” online for school supplies and to also navigate in-person deals and coupons to avoid the pricey supplies.

“Be strategic,” Glass said. “Maybe there’s a backpack brand that costs more than other brands, but it comes with a lifetime guarantee”

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