While it might seem early to start thinking about back-to-school (B2S) shopping, we’re seeing inflation and supply chain issues shifting spending habits, which could trigger early B2S shopping, increased price sensitivity, and more preparation and budgeting.

CivicScience survey results show that U.S. parents in general are growing increasingly concerned about supply chain issues, with those “very concerned” increasing by nine percentage points from April to May. They are also feeling more concerned about inflation now more than ever. Roughly two-thirds of parents are expressing they’re “very concerned” about inflation, which is the highest we’ve seen to date.

For the first time since February 2021, more parents feel financially worse off than those who feel better off. Similarly, they are becoming more price-sensitive. Those who are “more price-sensitive” increased by twenty-two percentage points since the beginning of 2021.

Who will be doing B2S shopping this year? The data show that just as many adults will be doing back-to-school shopping for college (either for themselves or their child) as those who will be doing so for their K-12 children (16%). When it comes to shopping methods, college shoppers are more likely than K-12 B2S shoppers to make purchases online or via an app. The majority of K-12 shoppers are planning to do at least some portion of their back-to-school shopping in-store.

B2S shoppers are already getting a head start. In May 2022, shoppers were already further along in their shopping than they were in July 2020, but not compared to last July.

Additionally, 41% of shoppers are already planning to spend more on back-to-school items than in previous years, with a 17% increase from 2021.

CivicScience continues to monitor how the current economic climate will impact spending habits among Americans, such as back-to-school shopping. Check back in weekly for new insights.