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.

Farnoosh Torabi Former Editor at Large
Farnoosh Torabi is a financial strategist, host of the award-winning podcast So Money and a bestselling author.
Katelyn Chedraoui Associate Writer
Katelyn is an associate writer with CNET covering apps, software and online services. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in media and journalism. You can often find her with a paperback and an iced coffee during her time off.
Farnoosh Torabi
Katelyn Chedraoui
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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

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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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