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ASCM Insights

Inflation and Ongoing Shortages Inspire Back-to-School Creativity


As students fill their backpacks for the first day of school, the related costs are adding up to some tricky math for families. Inflation and supply chain bottlenecks have led to significantly higher costs for all kinds of school supplies this year, and families are feeling the pinch.

Lending Tree reports that 75% of caregivers are stressed about paying back-to-school bills, up 67% from last year. Families expect to spend $661 per child, up 8% from 2021 and 27% from 2019. The cost of clothing and accessories rose 18% this year, and school supplies are 7% more expensive on average. Deloitte’s 2022 back-to-school survey revealed that 33% of households are in a worse financial situation than last year, with budgets already stretched thin due to the high prices of gas and groceries. Credit Karma research found that 42% of families expect to take on debt to afford school supplies, which most people feel are essential items.

Interestingly, many caregivers are hitting the books to find savings. Some are making detailed spreadsheets that list each classroom item and cross-compare prices at various retailers to find the best deals. Many are switching to meticulous planning tactics, such as shopping throughout the year to spread out the expense, seeking out sales and switching to less expensive brands. Others put on their thinking caps and had the foresight to partner with friends and neighbors to buy in bulk.

Still, many shoppers are stumbling on product shortages. Nearly one-third of consumers planned ahead this year and shopped early, according to Lending Tree. But 44% still had difficulty finding the supplies their kids needed. As the start of school approaches, stores are less likely to restock their inventories.

Learn your planning ABC’s

There are always unexpected back-to-school challenges that arise, even for those seasoned caregivers who planned ahead and shopped early. This year, that hiccup is inflation and supply chain constraints; at other times it might be not getting school supply lists on time or mistakenly forecasting this year’s list based on last year’s needs. There are numerous factors that must align for a successful experience.

Of course, the same is true in supply chain management. There are a lot of moving parts among different business units and the many tiers of suppliers and customers. Synchronization is critical to fast, accurate production and delivery, so supply chain planners have to know how to help these stakeholders work together to avoid disruption.

ASCM’s brand-new Supply Chain Planning Certificate introduces these planning fundamentals and trains learners to integrate all planning functions within their organizations. Other key topics include managing the master production schedule and material requirements plan, advancing sales and operations planning, determining order and reorder points, contributing to production and control activities, and identifying technologies to support synchronous planning.

After completing the self-paced, 20-hour online program and final exam, participants earn a certificate and a digital badge, as well as 20 certification maintenance points. Individual and team programs are available. Make a plan to hit the books today.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through