How the rising cost of school supplies is impacting parents

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The cost of back-to-school items is increasing, and parents in Shelby County are feeling the strain on their wallets.

Costs have increased by 60 percent compared to 10 years ago, according to data from the National Retail Federation.

Basic school supplies, such as notepads and pens, cost an average of $114 per child. When clothes and electronics are factored into the mix, the price tag per child is about $688, according to the data.

“It seems like they want parents to be responsible for more and more of the school supplies,” Cynthia Fisher said, with a cart full of school supplies at a Target Store in Memphis.

She said the list of items such as disinfecting wipes, napkins, and tissues bring costs up for parents.

“We never used to have to get that stuff,” Fisher said, with a laugh. “We got pencils.”

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Experts say you can save money by doing a few simple things:

  • Check your house for stuff on your supply list that you may already have
  • Use coupons
  • Search the web, and compare prices before you shop
  • Don't let children talk you into flashy, name brand items. Solid, simple notebooks, folders, pencils, etc. are often cheaper.

Several organizations in the Mid-South are giving away free school supplies and services, such as haircuts and health screenings this week, as parents prepare children for the new school year.

Please email additional events in the Mid-South to our news desk at

The following list includes upcoming events in Shelby County:

  • St. Paul Baptist Church plans to give 1500 kids free backpacks and school supplies this weekend. The event is August 6 from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 2124 East Holmes Road. The event is open to the public.

  • Memphis Health Center will provide free food, school supplies, and health screenings on August 5 at Kingsbury Middle School. The event is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the school's cafeteria.

  • Two local churches are sponsoring a backpack giveaway at Suggs Park in Collierville on August 2 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. The park is located at 163 E. South Street. Each backpack will be filled with supplies appropriate for elementary school children.

  • Shelby County Schools will host a block party Saturday August 5 at 160 S. Hollywood Street. Parents can register for school, get immunizations (while supplies lasts), free school supplies, and more.

  • The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and MLGW Employees will host a Backpack Giveaway Saturday August 5 from 9:00 a.m. until Noon. Parents should call 901-363-1563 to put their children, grades Pre-K through 3rd Grade, on the list. School supplies is also available.

  • Germantown's Jolie Hair Studio is offering free hairstyles at its annual "Curls for Girlz Back to School" event. It's Sunday August 6 from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Fairley High School, at 4950 Fairley Road in Memphis. A free shampoo and style will be offered to girls ages 12-18 who are going back to either Shelby County or Charter Schools. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins will also be accepted.