Rising back-to-school lists, costs give families a lesson in economics

By Julianne Logan

Cronkite News Service (MCT)

Published: Monday, Aug. 11 2014 10:00 a.m. MDT

Carly Tatroe said she was not surprised by having to spend $125 on school supplies last year for her then-eighth-grade daughter, Brielle. But she was “shocked” to see the same school district that asked for the supplies turn around and give every student in her Brielle’s class an iPad for classroom use.

“I found it ironic that they had iPads, but no copy paper,” said Tatroe, who said last year’s list included a request for 200 staples from every student.

With Brielle starting high school Monday, Tatroe is gearing up for a back-to-school shopping trip – but expects to have “less incentive” if the new school offers iPads to students.

Jill Hildwine has seen the issue from both side, as mother of four children and as a former teacher who now substitutes.

Hildwine “grumbles about school-supply shopping” but said she does it because she knows that the teachers need help – even though, like the other parents, she feels she is over-spending.

“I want to be a good parent and help out, but to look at a list like that and I don’t have a bazillon dollars to spend on that,” she said. “It puts a bad taste in my mouth.”

But Hildwine, who will have a fifth- and a seventh-grader this fall, said she expects the spending to rise as her two toddlers reach school age.

“I’m going to have to get, like, a part-time job,” she said. “I’m not opposed to that. I’m sure the older the boys get, the more I will have to spend.”



Families shopping for back-to-school supplies can expect to see increases across the board this year, according to estimates from the National Retail Federation.

—Experts estimate that more than $26.5 billion will be spent on clothing, shoes, supplies and electronics in the 2014 back-to-school shopping season.

—Spending per household is expected to rise by 5 percent compared to last year, even though total spending will fall slightly because of a smaller number of students.

—More than $8.4 billon will be spent on electronics, according to the estimates.

—Electronics sales are expected to increase by 7 percent from last year.

—The average family is expected to spend about $212.35 on electronics, compared to last year’s $199.05.

—For K-12 grades, high school students are expected to spend the most on electronics, estimated total spending at $229.

—Spending on school supplies is expected to grow 12 percent this year, to an average of $101.18 per family compared with last year’s $90.49.

—68 percent of shoppers plan to buy from discount stores while 54.4 percent will shop at department and brand-name stores.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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