Home Business News Here’s when it’s the cheapest time of year to buy school items… and it isn’t summer 

Here’s when it’s the cheapest time of year to buy school items… and it isn’t summer 

by LLB Reporter
5th Sep 23 6:09 am

New data from e-commerce accelerator Pattern reveals that consumers should avoid purchasing back-to-school items in August and September, the months leading up to the start of term, to get the best value for their money. 

The insights reveal that August and September are typically the most expensive months for a basket of back-to-school products. If possible, consumers should wait until later in the school year. If 2023 is anything like 2022, the most affordable month of the year will be November, when many school products — like pinafores and colouring pencils — are anywhere from 7% to 21% cheaper than the average the rest of the year. 

The good news for organised shoppers that have already purchased the necessary items, is that overall, the price of this basket of goods is not significantly higher than previous years. Analysing the data, a typical basket of school goods bought for students at the beginning of the new school year has risen by 2.46% collectively – which is well below the current inflation rate of 6.8%.  

However, there are several products that consumers will notice a sizeable increase in price from last year. Some of the goods on the list are rapidly outpacing inflation, with some stationery items seeing a rise of over 10%. These include file dividers (27%), rulers (26%), geometry set (21%), scientific calculators (18%), crayons (13%), pencil sharpener (11%), and pens (11%). Clothing items appear to be more inflation resistant, with school dresses, skirts, and pinafores all staying the same price or even seeing a slight decrease. 

The other items which have recorded a decrease in price over the last year are erasers (0.28%), pencil cases (4%), glue sticks (5%), marker pens (5%), sticky tabs (5%), school shoes (6%), colouring pencils (6%), and water bottles (11%). With inflation showing this trend, it should continue and benefit consumers’ spending power. 

A full overview of all products that have been analysed can be found here.

There are few commonalities between the products that are up and the ones that are down. This indicates that the forces impacting the pricing of each product are unique to that product and aren’t shared along the value chain for adjacent products. The one exception is clothing and accessories. Skirts, dresses, backpacks, and shoes are all performing better than the overall inflation rate – with most being down in price

The data insights come from Pattern’s analysis of the current average prices for the most commonly bought back-to-school products and compared them with the average prices from the previous year. Pattern also looked at pricing developments across the year to identify when the items were cheapest. 

Neal Fairfield, Director of Consultancy, Europe at Pattern says: “Our data indicate that inflation hasn’t impacted back-to-school items drastically this year — a welcome relief to parents purchasing back-to-school items for children heading into the next academic year.

“However, for those that perhaps haven’t been as organised, or still have some last-minute items to purchase, they should consider holding off until November. If they’ve got items from last year, I’d recommend trying to use those items first and wait it out until the more affordable months of the year. If they really need to purchase the items now, try to buy in bulk or purchase off-brand items to get the best price.” 

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