Inflation making back-to-school shopping more expensive for Canadian parents

By CityNews Staff

With one week left before classes resume for another school year, parents doing back-to-school shopping may be feeling the financial pinch with everything being more expensive due, in part, to inflation.

Deloitte Canada has been tracking shopping trends. The company’s national retail leader, Marty Weintraub, says they are seeing increased anxiety levels.

He thinks parents will be spending, on average, $500-$600, and that includes everything from supplies, clothing, and electronics. These figures are higher than in previous years, with the COVID-19 pandemic also playing a part.

“Because prices are just higher but also because school has been offline, then in-class, and back and forth for two years. There’s never been a lot of stability in the last couple of years. So, now I think with classes going back to, hopefully, more in-person, apparel has to go up, electronics may be at par, and school supplies will definitely have to go up because now we’re back in class,” Weintraub explained.

As many people increase their spending, not everyone is necessarily getting more bang for their buck.

“Some of that increased spending is coming purely from inflation. Because they’re buying more things, but I think in Canada, I think we’re going to see a little bit of both — more spending because things are more expensive but also more spending, to some extent, because we have to buy some more things because we haven’t bought them in the past couple of years. Or kids weren’t going to school so [parents] didn’t need to buy as much apparel, for example,” Weintraub added.

He thinks parents may be able to save some money right now by not buying electronics, likely because many did during the pandemic for things like online learning or to keep their kids busy.

Meanwhile, back-to-school shopping is just one part of the current retail landscape — the holiday shopping season is just around the corner.

“I anticipate the holiday shopping season to be a decent one. Depending on what happens with interest rates, stock markets, and labour markets — those will be the three things over the next 60 days that I think will determine what kind of holiday season we’re going to have. Right now, I’m approaching this with cautious optimism,” Weintraub said.

With the country on the cusp of another possible economic downturn, he isn’t writing off the possibility of a strong holiday shopping season.

“In some parts of the country, or depending on what your personal situation is, you will spend less and approach the holiday more carefully … but we don’t know for sure that we’re actually going to enter a recession and more importantly, if we’ll enter it in the holiday period.”

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