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Parents are expected to spend more on back-to-school supplies in 2021

Some families are expected to spend as much as 32% more on school supplies this year compared to last year, according to a recent KPMG survey.

PORTLAND, Ore. — School is almost back in session, which means parents are hustling to get their students ready.  

Going back to class will still be different for kids this fall with different rules for COVID, but that’s not the only thing changing as kids head back to the classroom.

“School supplies this year are more expensive than they’ve been in the past. There are some supplies that are very difficult to get and that, on top of everything else, makes it really hard for families. And it makes it really hard for teachers,” said Alice Forbes, executive director of Schoolhouse Supplies in Northeast Portland. 

A recent KPMG survey found the ripple effects of the pandemic are having an impact on back-to-school spending.     

The average parent’s spending per student is expected to be as much as $270. That is about $20 more than last year, according to the survey.  

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Parents of kids heading to preschool plan to spend as much as 32% more, while parents of college students will spend about 13% more. The sharp increase for these two groups is, partially, because more students are entering both preschool and college this fall — after putting those plans on hold a year ago.  

However, a key reason for the uptick in spending: the cost of supplies is up.  

A combination of supply shocks to U.S. manufacturing suppliers and abruptly heightened consumer demand for goods, including school supplies, has created a perfect storm for heightened spending, according to KPMG.  

“If we have it in, we’re putting it out on the shelf for customers,” Safeway communications representative Nicky Nielsen said. “Everything is going really quickly.”  

Safeway and Albertsons said prices are up everywhere for school supplies because of manufacturing and distribution challenges across the country — related to COVID. 

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However, even before the challenges of the pandemic, many families couldn’t afford the items their kids needed to check off their school supply list. The pandemic has made that even more difficult for many.  

“It’s hard to have a successful school year if you don’t have the supplies you need to succeed,” Nielsen said. “So, really, giving people equal access to paper, pencils, markers help even out that playing field and set people up for success.”  

That’s why Safeway and Albertsons are teaming up with KGW again this year for the KGW School Supply Drive.

You can help make a difference on your next grocery run. Pick up some extra supplies to donate to the drive or make a financial donation at the checkout at your local Safeway or Albertsons. You can add the donation when you pay using the pin pad.  

“These supplies go back to kids and families who need it in your local neighborhood,” Nielsen said. “So, just know that any donation you make is really going to make a difference to somebody.”  

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