A new survey from Lending Tree shows that a third of parents are willing to go into debt to get their children ready for the classroom.
“That really tells you just how thin the financial margin for error is for so many folks in this country,” says Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree.
He tells Yahoo Finance that the average amount parents are expected to spend on back-to-school items is $498. “A $500 expense is enough to send an awful lot of people into debt.”
Schulz says inflation is a factor in back to school shopping this year, but that the biggest challenges parents face is uncertainty.
“There’s no question that inflation is an issue, but really I think maybe the biggest issue is just a lot of the uncertainty that we’re still seeing in school districts around the country. And the truth is the parents have to be prepared not just to send their kid to learn on campus, but also to be ready in case there are big spikes of COVID at a school and schools get closed down in that particular area,” he noted.
“So that uncertainty, that flexibility means that you’re not just buying backpacks and lunch boxes and, and notebooks and things like that. You’ve also still got to worry about things like desks and office chairs and things like that. So all that stuff along with things like hand sanitizer and masks that are just kind of a reality of life. Wherever you go right now it all adds up and it’s a really expensive situation,” Schulz said.
Schulz also notes that the reopening of brick-and-mortar retail locations is changing the shopping habits of many parents. He notes that only a quarter of parents say that they will do their back-to-school shopping online, representing a sharp decline from the previous year. Schulz says that in-person shopping can save parents money when it comes to certain items.
“There’s a lot to be said for shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. When you’re thinking about things like clearance racks and bargain bins especially., if you’re just thinking about pencils and pens and paper and all that sort of stuff — stuff that you can probably find a little cheaper at some of these brick-and-mortar stores maybe than you would even find at an online retailer,” he said.
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.
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