Old Navy is lending parents a helping hand with their back-to-school shopping. The retail chain has announced a commitment to temporarily lock prices on select apparel, to help minimize the impact that families are experiencing from inflation.
Prices on consumer goods continue to increase in the U.S., rising 8.5% in March compared with a year ago. That was the highest 12-month spike since December 1981, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The biggest contributors to the increases have been gasoline, food and home prices, but essential fashion items have been impacted as well. BLS reported that prices for apparel rose 6.8% in March year-over-year, and the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America found that footwear increased 6.6% during that period as well.
Old Navy said that as part of its new “Price ON-Lock” initiative, it will not raise prices on its everyday kids’ fashion essentials, which includes boys’ and girls’ apparel labeled “Everyday Magic” in stores and on OldNavy.com. The price lock will extend through September and the back-to-school shopping season.
“Old Navy understands the financial pressures facing its customers and wants to ensure parents can outfit their kids for the new school year without additional budgetary concerns,” the company said in a statement.
Back-to-school shopping has become an increasingly larger expense for families. In 2021, KPMG estimated that the average spend per student was $268, up from $247 in 2020, led by growth in key retail categories such as footwear, apparel and school supplies.
Several factors contributed to the rise in spending in 2021, including pent-up demand and inflation. Additionally, families had the benefit of the monthly Child Tax Credit checks, which the Biden Administration began sending to families in July. “In my opinion, there is no doubt that the Child Tax Credit checks and a meaningful growth in wages contributed to strong sales [for back-to-school],” wrote Matt Powell, senior sports industry adviser for The NPD Group, in a report last fall.
However, those monthly federal payments ended in December, so families will not have that financial boon this year as they stock up for the school season.