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How much will back to school set parents back this year?

August 25, 2023, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

Parents and students across Canada are getting ready for the new school year with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety. However, before the studying begins in earnest, some serious shopping is required. Let’s take a look at what back to school will cost parents this year compared with 12 months earlier.

Parents will be paying more for school textbooks and supplies

Prices for school textbooks and supplies were up 2.8% year over year in July. For parents providing after school activities to their children, prices for “other lessons, courses and educational services,” such as a music lesson or a martial arts program, were up 5.6% year over year.

Parents needing to provide stationery supplies for their children were paying 12.9% more year over year in July.

For parents updating their child’s study space, furniture prices were down 3.7% year over year in July.

For students who rely on city bus and subway transportation, prices were up 4.1% year over year in July, with the largest price increase being in Quebec (+12.1%).

Prices for children’s apparel running below the pace of inflation

For parents of primary and middle schoolers, prices for children’s clothing were flat (0.0%) year over year in July, while footwear for children cost 0.9% more.

For parents of high school students, they will be paying 1.0% more for women’s clothing and 0.2% less for men’s clothing.

For youth of all ages, athletic footwear cost 0.6% less year over year in July.

Parents will be shelling out less for electronic gadgets and plans

This fall, the biggest savings for parents will be in providing the electronic gadgets and plans that will both help and distract returning students.

Prices for computer equipment, software and supplies were down 10.5% year over year in July, while prices for cellular services were down 14.8%.

Canadians were paying 3.8% less for Internet access services this July compared with the same month a year earlier, with the largest increase being in Newfoundland and Labrador (+4.2%) and the biggest drop being in Quebec (-15.1%).

Lunch boxes will cost a lot more

Perhaps the biggest price shock for parents this fall will be how much more they will be paying for lunch box staples compared with a year earlier.

Prices for bread, rolls and buns were 8.1% higher this July compared with 12 months earlier.

Nationally, cheese cost 6.9% more year over year in July; parents in New Brunswick paid 13.5% more, while those in Saskatchewan paid 1.3% less. Processed meat (+5.2%) as well as jam, jelly and other preserves (+18.8%) also cost more year over year in July.

Prices for cookies and crackers were 12.4% higher this July compared with 12 months earlier, and fresh milk prices were 6.2% higher. Parents in Manitoba were paying 10.3% more for milk year over year this July, the largest increase among the provinces, while their neighbours in Saskatchewan were paying 3.8% more.

For students looking to get on their teacher’s good side this fall, apples cost 7.8% more this July compared with 12 months earlier. A more economic choice would be bananas, up 0.6% year over year in July.

Learn more about price changes with our handy Consumer Price Index Data Visualization Tool.

Better yet, find your personal inflation rate based on the goods and services you buy.

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Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136514-283-8300; or Media Relations (