The prices of sheets, notebooks, squares and compasses have risen sharply in one year, according to a study by UFC-Que Choisir. Stationery is particularly affected.
A pencil case and markers for the child’s entry into first grade, a brand new diary for your middle school student and a stack of binders for your eldest… As the start of the new school year approaches, the receipt is getting longer and can quickly climb. Especially since, if the peak of inflation seems to have been crossed for food products, the trend in the shelves of school supplies is on the rise. On average, the prices of schoolbag essentials increased by 10% between July 2022 and July 2023, according to a study by UFC-Que Choisir carried out on the basis of statements on 137 products from national brands and private labels. To compensate for some of these price increases, the back-to-school allowance, paid on Wednesday August 16, was increased by around twenty euros per child.
“The Whole Briefcase” is concerned by this increase, warned the director of UFC-Que Choisir, Grégory Caret, guest of RMC at the end of July. But itIt is above all on the stationery side that inflation is felt the most, with a 14% increase over one year. In retail, single checkered sheets are more expensive by 34%, and double copies by 29%. The price of large-format notebooks has increased by 22%, against 17% for small notebooks.
In the other departments, UFC-Que Choisir noted a 9% increase in “artistic material” (paint, brushes) and 8% in “scientific material” (rulers, compasses, etc.). The square ranks among the supplies whose price has risen the most: +19% over one year. Finally, the pens, pencils and markers, for their part, increased by 7%. Figures from the Association of Stationery and Office Manufacturers (AIPB) tend to confirm these orders of magnitude. “We observe increases which oscillate between 8.9% (in supermarkets) and up to 10.6%” in specialized brands and e-commerce platforms, reports the president of the organization, Nadège Helary, who relies on data from the firm GFK.
The price of paper has almost doubled since 2020
The UFC-Que Choisir survey also reveals that the prices of private label items increased slightly more (+11% over one year) than those of national brands (+9%). However, products from supermarket brands remain, on average, less expensive. A difference that weighs in household decisions, which “go more and more towards private labels”emphasizes Grégory Caret.
This inflation is partly linked to the evolution of commodity prices. “In 2020, we went from a paper price of 600 euros per ton, which then rose to 1,300 euros per ton, to arrive today at 1,100 euros per ton”explains Guillaume Nusse, president of Clairefontaine and Rhodia. “It remains superior to anything I have known for 25 years”says the manager.
“The price of paper peaked at the end of 2022, and even if it has fallen since then, we are still at high values.”Nadège Helary, President of the AIPB
For its part, UFC-Que Choisir recalls that wholesale plastic prices have “also yo-yoed in recent years, due to Covid and then the war in Ukraine”.
In addition to the prices of raw materials, the energy crisis has also weighed on production costs, engages Nadège Helary. And despite the ebb in commodity and electricity prices in recent months, “this decline has not yet been passed on to the consumer”, observes the UFC-Que Choisir. And for good reason: discussions between manufacturers and distributors on the prices of back-to-school products have been held “between the beginning of September 2022 and January 2023”, explains the president of the AIPB. The prices displayed on the shelves therefore reflect negotiations that took place in the midst of a rise in world prices.
To partially lighten the note for families, manufacturers are putting forward a series of offers. “We have a whole battery of products promoted” with “either free product or direct discounts”, explains to franceinfo Philippe Surun, commercial director at Bic. He says to expect “that the consumer buys more promoted references than he bought previously”. “There are nevertheless efforts made by manufacturers to offer a wider range by adapting to the consumer’s budget”, assures Nadège Helary.
Repression of seized fraud
On the retail side, the brands also claim to multiply commercial gestures. For loyalty card holders, the Carrefour group, for example, offers reductions of up to 70% on a selection of national brand pens, highlighters and glue. Auchan boasts “11 must-have school list products at an unbeatable price”as well as a “back-to-school pack” consisting of 21 items from its brand for less than 40 euros. “On many back-to-school products, and in particular private label, we will take practically no margins”meanwhile promised Michel-Edouard Leclerc, at the head of the Leclerc group, predicting on Europe 1 that supermarkets will “fight” in September “to keep their customers”.
The government also intends to put pressure on distributors to contain the inflation of back-to-school products. In the spring, the Minister Delegate for Trade, Olivia Grégoire, asked them to include school supplies in the anti-inflation system. The operation, set up in March and extended until the end of the year, is based on the commitment of supermarkets to limit price increases on certain products, by cutting back on their margins. For the time being, a handful of brands, such as Carrefour, have actually added back-to-school items to their anti-inflation baskets, according to verifications by franceinfo. For its part, Casino has not included them on its list of “500 everyday products for less than 1 euro”, but offers 60 private label school supplies for less than 2 euros until mid-September. Intermarché claims to have included school supplies in its anti-inflation plan for the start of the school year, but will not communicate the details until the end of August.
In the wake of the publication of the UFC-Que Choisir study, the executive also seized the Repression of Fraud in order to investigate “school supply price hikes”. She will have to make sure that there is no “no abuse”specifies the office of Olivia Grégoire, and in particular “check on the side of the large distribution what is done”. The delivery of its copy is expected for September.