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Inflation Is Taking a Bite Out of 85% of Back-to-School Shoppers Budgets, CNET Survey Finds

As the back-to-school shopping season begins, shoppers are looking for ways to ease costs.

blue piggy bank and change scattered in a zigzag
Sarah Tew/CNET

Some 85% of back-to-school shoppers say inflation and rising consumer costs will impact their back-to-school shopping plans this year, a new CNET consumer survey finds. 

With inflation at a record 40-year high, consumers are concerned about staying within budget for back-to-school expenses. Nearly nine out of 10 shoppers plan to take advantage of different savings strategies, including scouring for discounts (60%) and reducing spending in other areas (40%). Approximately 23%, however, expect to alleviate expected costs by taking on new debt to cover back-to-school essentials, a troublesome notion at a time when both prices and credit card interest rates are staggering

Red bar graph on white background
Katelyn Chedraoui/CNET

One payment method that stood out for college students in particular is Buy Now Pay Later programs. Nearly a quarter of college shoppers plan to use BNPL plans like Paypal, Afterpay and Affirm, making them the biggest back-to-school shopping group to use BNPL, especially compared to K-12 shoppers. 

In addition to finding new ways to pay for school supplies, CNET found that 47% of all back-to-school shoppers plan on only buying the essentials -- cutting back on what they bought in previous years. This year, school supplies that were deemed essential are paper products and attire/clothing. 


Survey fielded July 15 to July 19 among 712 back-to-school shoppers using the market research platform Suzy.

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