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School supply prices higher and in shorter supply this fall

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 6:34 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -As parents prepare their kids to return to the classroom, they’ve also had to prep themselves for the sticker shock of back-to-school shopping this year.

Prices are up significantly on some items, and others are pretty hard to come by.

Claire Connelly was as excited about school supply shopping as she was about starting school this year.

“Then we did the shopping and then we were like ‘Oooh!’ It’s a little dicey,” said her mom, Rachel Connelly.

They experienced what a lot of parents are this back-to-school season, higher prices.

“Supplies were a bit more expensive than I thought, and the amount of supplies needed,” she said.

Many who waited to shop are also finding empty shelves.

“Kind of the classic thing you’re hearing everywhere-due to COVID we’re low on this or short on this,” said Connelly.

She’s not only a parent, but a teacher, who knows just how important it is for kids to come to school with the right supplies to help them succeed.

Connelly was once one of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District teachers who shopped here at the Shoes and Clothes for Kids teacher shopping center, which serves four thousand teachers.

“We go through tens of thousands of dollars with of school supplies every year so teachers can get it to kids that need it the most,” said Executive Director Terry Uhl.

He said this year has been expensive and challenging for the non-profit because of COVID-related supply chain and shipping delays on core supplies.

“Costs are up because the cost of renting these shipping containers on these ships coming across has gone up exponentially from a few hundred bucks to sometimes a few thousand bucks,” he said.

The organization has seen a huge price jump from the 2019 school year.

Their cost for pencils and highlighters are up 22 percent.

Crayons are up 23 percent.

Notebooks and pens up 25 percent.

Markers, erasers and pencil boxes up 26 percent.

Glue sticks, paper, rulers and scissors up 27 percent.

The National Retail Federation predicts back to school spending will reach a record $37B this year, with the average family spending $849, most of which is going toward clothes, and the Connelly’s are no exception.

“The price of uniforms is also outrageous. So, one jumper is $48 dollars,” said Connelly.

“Both for the school clothing we give out and the school supplies vendors called us back in late March, early April and they said if you want your normal order you need to get it in earlier and gave us earlier deadlines,” Uhl said.

They were warned about a 25 percent surcharge if orders weren’t in early so they had drain their rainy day fund to get their orders fulfilled on time for the start of school, and kicked fundraising in to high gear to replenish the coffers.

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One of the things they’re having a hard time getting their hands on, and at a reasonable price, headphones and earbuds because so many more children are using laptops and tablets and independently learning now.

Paper has also been at a premium.

“We know a few of the manufacturers have gone out of the copy paper business, like Georgia Pacific and yet the teachers need that. The school districts need that and because of the cost they have to dole out the copy paper but they need it throughout the year,” said Uhl.

He’s been told it will normalize soon, but not before the school bell rings.

You can monetary donations to Shoes and Clothes for Kids here, or drop off school supplies at their warehouse.

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