School supplies prices and descriptions in 1908
PRICES OUT. A 1908 newspaper cutout of wholesale prices and school supply descriptions. photo/Morning Journal-Courier

An inevitable time of year that students of all ages cannot escape has sprung: school supply shopping. With back to school shopping comes endless hours of shopping for supplies that one will either run out of or never use.

Even in today’s technical day and age, people still spend hundreds of dollars on school supplies, which begs the question if the digital age has really eliminated the use and purpose of ‘old school ways.

Traditional school supply items required by schools and teachers, like paper and pencils, are outdated products nowadays, due to growing technological resources available today.  For high schoolers, having to buy seven composition notebooks, countless folders, pencils, pens and paper, it is no surprise that parents spend nearly $100 on supplies. These are the same supplies that cost no more than 10 cents over a hundred years ago. And, these supplies can easily be replaced with technology tools like Google Drive or some other tech resource to organize and create assignments.

Whether one is buying school supplies during tax free weekend or paying for tax, the prices of school supplies are not decreasing, despite the decrease in demand. The amount of money spent at the beginning of the year shows that supplies are still deemed necessary for school preparedness. “The essentials really haven’t changed that much, it’s the prices and the quality of the supplies. You always want to have the best pencils, and or notebooks, so what tends to happen is the total amount begins to rack up,” senior Shelby Reardon said.

According to the National Retail Federation, families with children from elementary to high school spend an average of $696.70. Which is up from last year’s $684.79, as well as topping the record of 688.62 which was set in 2012. The numbers do not hide the truth in how much parents are spending on the same supplies that have been required by teachers for decades. “[As the digital age progresses, I do not see myself buying fewer school supplies] for my kids because teachers are still requiring the same standard supplies even though they have computers at school,” Senior Seminar teacher Andrew Robinson said.

Year after year, the record amount in sales continue to break and surpass expert expectations.

“This year for my sister and I, we spent a combined amount of $170 [on school supplies],” Reardon said. What seems to be the reason for so much money being spent during this season is not wanting to run out of supplies or buying supplies that have the best quality. “I always want to have the best pencils that are going to last me the entire year, so I don’t have to return to stores for supplies, which I will end up losing quickly.”

The rapid increase in school supply sales yearly proves the 21st century and progressing digital age has not affected the standard back to school system. Although classrooms now have iPads, laptops, computers or smart boards, the routine of school supply shopping will prevail in our communities.