For families, back to school rhymes with the end of the holidays, but also with new expenses. School supplies, purchases of clothes, registrations for extracurricular activities… The bill quickly increases as September 1 approaches. In a context where inflation exceeded 6% over one year in July, franceinfo takes stock of the evolution of prices before the return of children to school.
Unsurprisingly, the cost of the vast majority of products is higher than a year ago, according to the latest INSEE data available (consumer price index in July 2022). This is particularly the case for books and stationery. The price of textbooks has risen by 2.4% and that of dictionaries by 2.7%. But the strongest increase concerns stationery and drawing materials (notebooks, pens, pencils, etc.): +6.3% in one year.
This strong increase is the consequence of the surge in the price of paper pulp. INSEE notes a difference of 36% for French production and of 47% for imports compared to June 2021. At issue: supply problems and a very energy-intensive industry which has suffered greatly from the rise in the price of gas and electricity.
Still on the side of school supplies, a significant price increase is also noted on calculators, with an increase of more than 8% over one year. As for the backpack that will be used to carry all this equipment, it is also likely to cost more than last year since, according to INSEE data, the price of the different types of bags is on average 4.3% higher than last year.
Sports practice will also be more expensive than for the start of the 2021 school year, but the increase is less substantial than for school supplies. INSEE notes that, over one year, the cost of sports activities increased by 2.2%, and that of sports equipment by 3.4%. Finally, the good surprise for parents will perhaps come from children’s clothing, which does not seem to be affected by the inflationary dynamic: the prices of shoes only increased by 0.7% while those of fell by nearly 1%.
After all these numbers, what will the final bill look like for families? The calculation is difficult because it depends on the level of education of the child and INSEE has not reported on the subject since 2014. But some associations make estimates. According to Families of France, which carries out each year investigation on the cost of going back to 6th grade, the increase compared to the start of the 2021 school year is 4.25%.
To obtain this figure, the association raises the prices of a standard basket of 45 products in stores all over France. “This is the biggest increase in the cost of back-to-school that we have recorded since 2017”notes Jamy Belkiri, president of the consumption division of Families of France. “And this increase is likely to be more marked in September when stores will replenish their stationery stock and pass on the increase in paper pulp”she adds.
Another association, the Trade Union Confederation of Families, also carried out a survey on the cost of going back to school. And it recorded a drop of 2.6%. This figure is explained by the methodology of the survey, which asks 109 families to identify what they have spent. The association explains that the drop in expenses is not due to a drop in prices, but to the fact that families are trying to save money by reducing their “pleasure” purchases or by reusing supplies from the previous year.
To cope with inflation, the government has decided to increase the back-to-school allowance (ARS) by 4% this year. The amount of this state aid, paid to three million low-income families, varies this year between 392 and 428 euros per child, depending on their age. An increase, however, deemed insufficient by the FCPE, questioned by franceinfo.