Back-to-School shopping: then vs. now

Many backpacks fall in the $20 to $30 range. In 1994, those same backpacks would have cost $12.44 to $18.65.  <span class=meta>(Hilary / CollegeDegrees360 / Flickr)</span>
As kids are getting in their last few days at the beach, parents have already begun tallying up their back-to-school list for the upcoming academic year. Pencils. Notebooks. Backpacks. All must-buys to ensure another year of A+'s and student excellence.

Even though Back-to-School has been an annual shopping tradition for decades now, it's pretty staggering to see how prices have jumped for your typical items from just 20 years ago. The data below shows prices for school supply items found at common retailers, and then what those same prices were 20 years ago using the CPI inflation calculator. Check out the images below to see how Back to School has changed from then vs. now.


Many backpacks fall in the $20 to $30 range. In 1994, those same backpacks would have cost $12.44 to $18.65.

Trapper Keepers

Trapper Keepers typically sell between $15 to $25. They would have cost $9.33 to $15.54 twenty years ago.

Lunch Boxes

Parents can be expected to shell out $10 to $22 dollars for a top notch lunch box. In 1994, a lunch box could cost just $6.22 to $13.68


Depending on quality and need, a notebook can range from $1 to $10 or more. Compare that to 1994, where you could get a notebook for $0.60 or lower.


An advanced graphing calculator today can run as high as $130. In the 90's that price would have been $80 at most.


If your kids are going to be biking to school, be prepared to spend $80-$150 for a standard quality bike. In 1994 prices, that would have been between $50-$95.

What's on your back-to-school list?
Related Topics:
family back to school education school schools bicycle distraction retail shopping u.s. & world parenting children

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