WYOMING, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Rising costs continue to impact families across the nation and right here in the Wyoming Valley.

As students return to the classroom across the Commonwealth, parents are the ones getting a lesson when it comes to inflation. The national retail federation says back-to-school spending will rise more than 40-percent this year compared to 2019.

“It’s tough. Stick to the staples. Kids like mac & cheese and things that you can try and stretch across all three kids to make sure they are eating healthy,” said parent and teacher, Leslie Parry.

This back-to-school shopping season, many parents are focusing on the basics to stay afloat amid rising inflation, which hit a new 40-year high in June. To understand the impact of surging inflation on this year’s back-to-school spending, look no further than Gerrity’s Supermarkets in Wyoming.

“Our customer accounts are up, so I know we’re tracking more customers, but our item counts are down, sales are staying pretty good so sales are still up but it’s definitely not keeping pace with inflation. What all these numbers are telling me is that people are getting real tight on money,” said Gerrity’s co-owner, Joe Fasula.

Just 36 percent of parents say they can afford their back-to-school shopping compared to 52 percent last year.

“So the biggest component is labor issues that are going on throughout the country. That really affects everything else. So take juice boxes for example. Everything even the auto industry has components that go into it. So for a juice box, you have the straw, do you have the raw materials for the juice itself, you have the box. If there’s a problem with any of those components there’s not gonna be juice boxes on the shelf,” said Fasula.

Fasula says keeping his prices low is a top priority which is why you may notice something different in Gerrity’s Supermarkets just in time for the back-to-school season.

“I’m making a big switch right now to a new supplier. That is going to allow us to lower prices quite a bit and that’s something I’m very excited for it,” explained Fasula.

A big switch reducing some prices by cents and others by dollars. Parry is a parent of three teenagers and a teacher at Solomon Plains Elementary. She says her grocery bill has gone up quite a bit and the kids have to be fed.

“There’s kids that don’t have anything. Some parents will come up and say something to you and we try to help out as much as we can, a lot of teachers gave up their own time and money to help those who don’t have,” said Parry.

A never-ending task for teachers across NEPA as more than 11,500 children in the Wyoming Valley live in poverty.

You can see more on our week-long special “Back to School 2022” a joint reporting project with the Times Leader and mornings on Eyewitness News.