Last month, consumer prices jumped 3.2% compared to the year prior, according to new data released Thursday. But over the same period, prices for stationery supplies like notebooks, binders, pens and pencils rose 9.3%.
Americans are expected to spend a record amount on back-to-school items this year.
Families with children in elementary through high school are projected to spend an average of $890 on back-to-school shopping in 2023, up $25 from last year’s all-time high, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
In total, consumers are projected to spend a record $41 billion on back-to-school this year. Meanwhile, the NRF expects back-to-college spending to be more than double that amount, reaching $94 billion at $1,367 per household.
Here’s what costs more, and less, compared to this time last year, according to the Consumer Price Index.
Back-to-school style prices are up
Families shopping for girls may see higher prices this year than those with boys. Girls’ apparel prices are up 7.2% compared to July 2022, in contrast to a 3.4% increase for boys’ clothes.
That’s a switch from this time last year when boys’ clothes prices were rising much faster than girls’ apparel prices.
Haircut prices have also risen faster than overall inflation and are up 5.3% from July 2022.
Parents could see some relief in the shoe department. After jumping nearly 8% from 2021 to 2022, prices for boys’ and girls’ footwear are down 1.3% over the past year.
Some school supplies are more expensive this year
Prices for stationery supplies — which include things like paper, notebooks, pens and pencils as well as binders, tape and glue — are up 9.3% over the past year. That’s on top of the 11% jump consumers saw for the same products between July 2021 and 2022.
The prices for other items are actually falling compared to last year, particularly those related to electronics. Computer software prices are down 7.3% over the past year, and calculator prices fell 11.8%.
Prices for college textbooks also dropped 3.6% compared to last July. That’s the most significant year-over-year decline since November 2019.
Tuition is also up
Across the board, tuition prices are up over the past year. Daycare and preschool prices have accelerated fastest, jumping 6% from July 2022 to July 2023. That marks a nearly 10% increase compared to two years ago.
College tuition prices have actually increased slower than overall inflation, ticking up 2% over the past year.