Back to school . . . already?
Paper or plastic? College or wide-ruled? Pockets and brads?
So it begins: the late-summer scramble formally known as back-to-school shopping. Parents and kids across the nation are filling their carts with familiar items: the perfect statement-making backpack, the 12-pack of purple glue sticks, crayons in every color, calculators, Clorox wipes, and the ever-elusive manilla colored craft paper. And that doesn’t even cover new clothes, haircuts, or a haul of pudding cups from Costco. Unsurprisingly, parents are stressed.
A 9% jump in the consumer index prices over the past year is picking everyone’s pocket. And without the boost from pandemic stimulus checks, any extra cash on hand has all but dried up.
According to a Morning Consult poll, only 36% of the American parents surveyed were confident they can afford back-to-school supplies for their kids, down from 52% last year. And Deloitte reports that families are planning to spend a whopping $661 per child to cover all the essentials. Ouch.
To top it all off, folks haven’t forgotten the huge supply chain issues triggered during the pandemic that had us all hoarding 2-ply toilet paper and Christmas shopping in July. And it looks like they’re not over yet. Hershey just announced that they won’t have enough candy to cover Halloween. Talk about scary.
But instead of pivoting from the bad news, some brands are choosing to meet the economic moment with empathy, added value, and notably, humor. Case in point: Amazon’s back-to-school campaign (launched alongside Prime Day) features the hilarious Kathryn Hahn walking the halls and talking to kids about gas prices. In one of the spots, the actress quips about spending less on school supplies, “Because this year, no price is too low for your children.” Now that’s relatable.
Other retail giants like Target are slashing prices and offering discounts on back-to-school items for students and teachers. Old Navy’s “Price ON- Lock” campaign promises not to raise the price of denim through the end of September, hoping to attract back-to-school shoppers who have been personally victimized by their kids’ growth spurts. (Raises hand.)
As a parent myself, I have to say, the back-to-school struggle is real. But if we have to navigate the latest challenges of inflation together, we might as well approach it with some levity, and if we’re lucky, more relatable advice from Kathryn Hahn.
Flooding devastates Kentucky
Thousands of Kentukians are preparing for the worst as massive flooding continues to take a debilitating toll on the eastern side of the state.
In a matter of 48 hours, anywhere from 8 to 10 ½ inches of torrential rain doused eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, and western Virginia, prompting President Biden to declare a federal disaster.
The most recent death count stands at 37, with 1,300 residents requiring emergency rescue services to escape the rushing flood waters. Hundreds remain unaccounted for, mainly due to a lack of cell service.
“It is absolutely devastating out there. It’s going to take years to rebuild . . . And we continue to find bodies of our brothers and sisters that we have lost,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said earlier in the week. Sobering to say the least.
Meanwhile 10,000 residents remain without power as temperatures begin to spike. Cooling stations are being set up by aid workers and volunteers to provide relief for thousands in the coming days.
If you’re looking for ways to help flood victims and their families, here’s some ideas for where to start.
First grain ship allowed to leave Ukraine
And now for a bit of good news. Even as a global food crisis looms in the background, a ship carrying 26,000 tons of Ukrainian corn left the port of Odesa for the first time since Russia invaded the country in February.
Days earlier, the United Nations and Turkey were able to broker deals with the warring nations, as surrounding countries–who rely heavily on Ukrainian grain–scramble to address the devastating effects of the shortages.
About 70% of Lebanon’s wheat, for example, is sourced from Ukraine. The war and other global economic factors have left 2.2 million Lebanese citizens in need of emergency aid. Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh also face mounting challenges.
The deal was a huge sigh of relief for the Ukrainian economy, which relies on agriculture for 45% of its general income. According to Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakovports, Ukrainian ports should be running at capacity in the coming weeks.
Best of the Week
Get the app
Get your mood-board on. Pinterest’s upcoming app, “Shuffles” combines collage-style layouts and photo/animation tools to dream up your next big idea and easily share with fellow collaborators. Can’t say I had “scrapbooking resurgence” on my Bingo card, but I do love surprises.
Readers are leaders
In a post-pandemic reading rut? You’re not the only one. As the pace of the world has picked back up again, casual readers and book lovers alike haven’t had as much time to squeeze in those page turners. Here’s some tips on how to get back in the ritual of reading and why it matters.
Stats to see
Brands who stay relevant to the younger generations reap the rewards. A recent poll ranking brands by how much their equity has changed with Gen Z is a fascinating one. Spoiler: Converse and Funyuns are leading the pack.
The Dark Ages have finally given way to the Renaissance by way of Queen Bey, and everyone’s talking about it. Maggie Rogers also dropped her new album that’s sending us in the best of ways. Pro tip: You might want to enjoy these on your headphones to keep the awkward office moments to a minimum. You’ll thank us later.
More News from the Week.
- Shots fired. SoulCycle is asking Peloton owners to trade in their bikes and solo rides for an IRL indoor experience with fellow riders. On top of free classes, selected ex-Peloton riders will also get their old bikes picked up and whisked away to the graveyard of regrettable pandemic-era purchases. Let’s hope they (re)cycle.
- All my hopes of becoming an instant billionaire were dashed last week. A lucky individual from Indiana won the $1.34 billion Mega Millions jackpot prize–the second largest in the history of the game. Cha-ching.
- The force is strong with this one. Jack in the Box welcomed ex-employee Mark Hammill to clown around in the drive-thru to the sheer delight of customers.
- Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, soccer star Alex Morgan, and Senator Chris Murphy are all serious about saving the beloved Choco Taco, which has been tragically discontinued. Taco bout a revolution. We’re here for this 100%.
- Developers are gamifying sleep with inspiration from the OG digital pet phenomenon itself–Tamagotchi. The forthcoming Sleepagotchi app will reward users who go to bed on time with NFTs, crypto, and their own MetaRoom, complete with a character. Fingers crossed that my caretaking skills have improved since 1996.