As more students prepare to return to in-person classes in the coming weeks, experts say some school supplies could be harder to find and prices may be higher as well.

The back-to-school shopping season is expected to be a bigger headache for parents this year.

“What parents are challenged with at this point in time is juggling the transition from the at-home learning to the in-person learning,” Sandra Guile, Better Business Bureau, said.

With more schools resuming in-person learning this fall, experts expect a surge in demand for supplies. The National Retail Federation says shoppers are expected to spend an average of $850 per family — that’s about $60 more than last year. And parents are bracing for shortages with items like sneakers, backpacks and gadgets expected to be in tight supply.

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So what can you do?

Experts say take advantage of the sales happening now.

”If you are like many of us, a last-minute shopper, you could always look to the second or third generation of products that are not on your list, but something similar. Also you can look at the second hand market as well,” Hitha Herzog, retail analyst, said. “You may have to spend a little bit more on that product, but there’s certainly lots of products out there that you can find.”

But while you’re searching for those hard-to-find supplies, be careful!

“This is where the scammers are finding the opportunity,” Guile added. “How can I make the most money off of this situation where people are at a disadvantage, they can’t shop and compare to go to store to store or find it on the shelf.”

That desperation triggering the Better Business Bureau to issue a warning about online shopping scams.

The BBB urging consumers to verify third-party vendors found through ads on social media.

“If you see those pop-up ads use some hesitation and caution with those and double check the name of the business to make sure they’re legitimate,” Guile said.

Total back-to-school spending is expected to reach a record $37.1 billion, up from $33.9 billion last year.

Let’s take a closer look at those numbers — according to RetailMeNot.

This year’s top back-to-school items are electronics, clothing, shoes, school supplies like folders, notebooks, and pencils and backpacks.

If you’re still searching, major retailers will send you inventory and price alerts.

You can also use mobile apps like shop Savvy that find products you’re looking for, and compare prices.
The Better Business Bureau recommends using a credit card when buying online, saying you’ll have additional protections to dispute and resolve charges if you don’t receive the items you purchased.