Inflation impacts back-to-school spending; educators work to help families

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:27 AM EDT
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BEDFORD Co., Va. (WDBJ) - High prices for back-to-school supplies are becoming a concern for many families.

Retail experts expect many families to spend more than they have in years.

According to the National Retail Federation, families with kids in grade school plan to spend an average of $864 on school items, about $15 more than last year--- which is also $200 more than 5 years ago.

As inflation continues to cause prices to rise, one third of consumers (38%) say they are cutting back on spending to cover the cost of items for the school year.

“The need is definitely there in the community. We can see that, we can definitely see this year all the response and phone calls,” said Denise Kennedy, a social worker at Bedford County Department of Social Services.

Bedford County’s Department of Social Services says they have seen the inflation impact, even in the number of school supply applicants they’ve received.

“Certain zones had more applicants than others. It is pretty even this year. You know, everyone is even in a situational, you know, the problem this year and with the rise of cost, so I’ve really seen it across the board. And every zone, I’m getting pretty equal applications,” said Kennedy.

They’re teaming up with Bedford County Public Schools to help alleviate some of the financial stresses for families by hosting another supply drive.

“We just want to be able to help families so that when they come to school on the first day, they have supplies, they have what they need to be successful and to really just support our families in Bedford County,” said Dr. Karen Woodford, the chief learning officer at Bedford County Public Schools.

‘Pack the Bus’ is one of their biggest drives of the year, and it comes at a time when school supply costs are at an all-time high.

“The back-to-school and college shopping season is one of the biggest for both consumers and retailers K-12 and college shoppers will spend more per person on this season than they do on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day combined and 2022 proves to be no different,” said Katherine Cullen, Senior Director of Industry and Consumer Insights, National Retail Federation.

Businesses and community members around Bedford County have already collected lots of supplies, but they hope to do more by breaking records and filling an entire bus with supplies.

“When they can come into school with their brand-new backpacks and their brand-new pencils and crayons and just the smiles on their faces and they’re just so excited,” said Dr. Woodford.

“We are looking forward to the school year like we talked about it. Hopefully, it is different in the fact that we’re back to normal and just seeing kids be kids again without thinking about everything else with COVID and how that’s impacted the last two years,” said Dr. Josh Cornett, executive director of school administration.

The ‘Pack the Bus’ event will be held at the Bedford Walmart Friday, August 5 from noon - 7 p.m. Collection boxes will also be inside Walmart before and after the event.

If you need additional assistance, you can also call the Bedford County Department of Social Services.

Businesses can also call the school district if they’d like to make a monetary donation as well.

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