(WHTM) — It’s that time of year again. The kids will be back in school before you know it, and the time to shop is now.

Back-to-school shopping season is here, and retailers are ready. In fact, this could be their strongest season yet thanks to inflation and more kids returning to in-person learning. That means it’s time to stock up.

Rina Hurst is the chief business officer for same-day delivery service Shipt. They surveyed thousands to study back-to-school shopping habits, and they say that the most in-demand item this year is pens and pencils.

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“Teachers are saying that kids are running out of these supplies pretty early in the year,” Hurst said, encouraging people “not only to shop early for these items but get them and maybe get some replenishment or backstock.”

“Now’s the time to shop because the deals are hot, there’s a lot of inventory in stores. Pick up those pens and pencils, so you’re ready for the school year ahead,” Hurst said.

Other top items this year include Elmer’s glue sticks, Crayola crayons, and Five Star notebooks and folders, Hurst said. Plus, 80% of parents are buying their kids a new backpack.

When it comes to the must-have items for older kids, 9 out of 10 college students are buying a new tablet, and 50% are getting a mini fridge.

Back-to-school shopping is the second biggest period of the year for retailers, only behind the holidays. This year, spending is expected to jump nearly 6% to $34.4 billion, even though many Americans are watching what they spend these days.

The average spending per student is expected to climb 8% to $661. Experts say the best way to save is to get started now rather than waiting until later.

“Deals are big right now. Things are slashed pretty dramatically. I love a good deal, especially this time of year, because there’s so many expenses as you head back into a routine and head back into schools, so definitely shop early. The inventory will be there, and you’ll find some great deals,” Hurst said.