BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — During this time of year, back to school is at the top of the minds of many parents.

According to the National Retail Federation, back-to-school spending is expected to reach $41.5 billion this year, which is up from $36.9 billion spent last year. We’re learning that this doesn’t necessarily mean the cost of supplies is up.

“Partially because of COVID, prices dropped dramatically. So if we look at what prices were before COVID, they’ve gone up but not as quite as much as you’d think. Part of that is perception,” said Fred Floss, Ph.D., a professor at SUNY Buffalo State College. “That might not be a bad thing because you should be cautious on what you buy and you should be looking at what the prices are to make the best decision possible.”

NRF predicts this rise in spending could be driven by the items that are on those wish lists –electronics.

The NRF predicts the total amount of spending on these electronics is expected to reach $15.2 billion.

“One of the things that have become much cheaper is electronics, so calculators, iPads, other kinds of computers,” said Floss. “If you look you can get really good deals and if you think about what a lot of your expense is, it’s in that appliance sort of area.”

Floss gave tips to help decide what the best deals are for your family, including deciding if you want to spend the extra few bucks on higher quality if you think it would last longer. He also suggests if you can’t afford to shop right away, waiting for the next paycheck is better than using a credit card.

“If you’re going to go into debt to buy all of these things, maybe what you could be doing is buying some of the things now, waiting until maybe a little bit later, and buying the next set of things when you have some money in the bank,” said Floss. “That way, you’re not paying interest on your credit cards and spending twice as much for a good deal.”

For college students, he suggests waiting to buy all their books and getting the syllabus first from the professors to see if you could get your books online for cheaper.

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Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.