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NEW YORK — To understand the impact of surging inflation on this year’s back-to-school spending, look no further than children’s rain boots with motifs like frogs and ladybugs made by Washington Shoe Co.

Spending held steady for these evergreen items even after the Kent, Washington-based business was forced to pass along 15% price increases in January to its retail clients because of soaring transportation costs. But by May, as gas and food prices also surged, shoppers abruptly shifted away from the $35 higher-end rain boots to the no-frills versions that run $5 to $10 cheaper, its CEO Karl Moehring said.

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