FORT WORTH (CBSNEWS.COM) – Many parents in North Texas, and across the country, are experiencing sticker shock as they begin to buy back to school items. Shoppers who have already started buying supplies are getting a painful lesson in economics.

In the middle of summer, some parents are already thinking about the fall and how much it will cost to send their children back to school.

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“It’s kind of crazy just to see how the prices have gone up so exponentially,” said Maray Elliott. The Fort Worth mother is one of hundreds of parents in line for free pencils, notebooks and paper.

The Fort Worth Independent School District will spend more than $4 million on school supplies.

“I looked at Target online for some crayons and they happen to be almost $3 and I know normally I’ve seen them [while] just walking through the store for $.50, so it was kind of shocking,” Elliott said.

Industry experts say part of the reason for the price jump is that when COVID shut down the country the supply chain was also put on hold and retailers are still trying to get back to normal.

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Katherine Cullen, a director of industry and consumer insights at the National Retail Federation, said, “They’re having to pay for air freight versus shipping cargo in order to get things here on time. Those costs — in terms of actually transporting goods — that has been a major concern for many of the retailers we’ve talked to.”

The National Retail Federation expects consumers to spend $37.1 billion in back to school supplies. That number is up more than $3 billion from last year.

Parents of kindergarten through 12th grade students are expected to spend just over $848 per household on supplies, including electronics.

With two elementary-aged boys parent Erica Tice is getting creative to save money on supplies. “I use a lot of stuff from last year, recycle stuff, they’re going to have mismatch pencils and mismatch bags and stuff, but it works,” she said.

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For Tice, stretching her dollar makes good sense. Staff