Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct information on school shopping lists.
SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Horry County parents are ready to send their children back to school.
Joseph Watts, the manager of the Walmart in Surfside Beach, said parents are searching for less expensive items this year.
The National Retail Federation reported a 22% increase in school supplies prices between 2019 and 2022, but Watts said the increase he is seeing at Walmart is not as significant.
“I know the inflation has went up a little bit, but it looks like the school supplies is not that bad,” Watts said.
As far as customer buying behavior, Watts said that he sees similar trends across the board.
“I would definitely say that it looks like people are always trying to get what they need at bare minimums,” Watts said. “It looks like [shoppers] are definitely going for the cheaper brand.”
He said that applies to school supply shopping as well. Watts said that most people are coming into the store looking for the least expensive brand of folders, binders and pencils — but he is finding they are flying off the shelves quickly.
“I see it every year. I see it with every holiday,” Watts said. “People wait til that last moment and they come in, and they don’t have but the expensive stuff left over.”
He said the days before the start of school leave slim pickings.
“The day before school starts, [people want] to buy certain size binders and stuff, and we don’t have it,” he said. “If we do it’s just the most expensive binder that we have left over.”
After being a part of several back-to-school seasons at Walmart, his biggest shopping advice is to get it done early.
“Go ahead and plan it out and go ahead and do the shopping,” Watts said. “Give yourself time to sort of look at what you could do a bit differently. I think you’re saving yourself a lot of money.”