'Back to school' cost down for primary, up for lycée

primaire college and lycee school materials

The cost of this year’s rentrée (‘back to school’) has dropped for primary schools but risen slightly for those at lycée (high school) level.

That’s according to the Confederation Union of Families (in French, the Confédération syndicale des familles (CSF)), which has again calculated the average estimated budget required for each pupil to buy everything needed for the new school year.

According to their figures, prices have dropped for primary-age children, stayed the same or dropped for those in collège (middle school), and risen for those in lycée.  

The budget for a child entering their first year of school has been calculated at €150 (down 2,8% compared to 2016), and €360 for a child going into 6e (collège; a drop of 2,3 %).

In contrast, a student entering 2de générale (lycée) can expect costs of more than €420 (up 2,6% compared to 2016).

This drop in primary and college is due to “less expensive than average purchases than those seen in 2016”, explained the CSF, especially when parents have the power to decide to buy less expensive items for younger children.

The rise in the cost of lycée is largely due to an increase in sporting equipment or new apparel needed, which becomes a “social marker” for older students, said the CSF.  

“Families [of older children] are often asked to buy two or more pairs of new trainers, for example,” stated the CSF, which counts items of clothing specifically for school in its calculations.

The pre-rentrée period is seen as a big opportunity for supermarkets, which put on increased numbers of promotions on bigger packs of stationery items, as they know that shoppers are likely to be stocking up for the next few months.

Benoît Marotte, director general of the stationery company Bic, noted that the cost of simple items such as paper, glue or pens has risen by only 0,6% in the past three years but increased in value by 7%, thanks to “innovative choices from consumers, and higher-quality products that last longer”.

“Supermarkets and hypermarkets have made big efforts on their prices when it comes to back-to-school goods,” added Patrick Chrétien, president of the Familles de France association - which also calculates the cost of going back to school - speaking to French newspaper Le Monde.

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