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School pickup

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School pickup

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IN LIGHT of the impact of the economic recession on the spending power of people worldwide, the SATURDAY SUN spoke to several back-to-school supply stores to get their views on how sales have been going.Martin Bryan, managing director of F. W. Woolworth and Company, said: “Persons tend to shop after the Crop-Over season and we have seen the increase in sales recently.” He added that because students had been given an extra week for the holiday many had postponed their shopping, but he was expecting the usual late shoppers.So far Woolworth has been able to meet demand and there has not been any major drop in the number of items or pieces that parents bought. “Persons tend not to have complaints about the prices, which may have gone up slightly over last year, but the parents continue to buy the usual three or four shirts or pants for their kids as the majority will ensure their kids are outfitted for school,” he said.At School Supplies in Cave Shepherd, Cecile Blackett, department manager, said: “Now the rush is on. Persons started shopping from the day after school closed, but there is the usual trend of late shoppers. We get early shoppers [and] then there are those who choose to wait until the last minute. It is a 50:50 ratio,” she said. As with everything, the prices have increased because of the current economic situation. Some people have complained but that has not stopped them from buying. “If persons usually buy five uniforms, they have cut back to three or four, depending on their budget,” Blackett said. To encourage persons to shop, the store is offering a special on selected brands – if persons spend over $100, they get a prize. The sales have been busy but manageable at the popular Days Bookstore, according to Karen Austin, one of the directors.  Austin said: “There were persons who shopped the same day school closed. From after 3 p.m. that evening the shop was busy. There is a lull for Crop-Over, then sales pick up after the season. Even with the constant flow of customers, we expect the usual last-minute rush.”Austin emphasised the need for greater communication between primary schools and the bookstores to ensure stock was ordered to meet demand. “We do not know what books the schools have on their lists. With no idea which books are being used, there is a possibility of shortages.  “We order books based on the order history, but if we could get that information beforehand we could order the books based on the requirements and have all the titles available.” Days offers a ten per cent discount on selected books, but has not heard any complaints about prices. “We have tried to keep our prices consistent with last year,” Austin said.Managing director of Abed and Company Limited, Eddy Abed, said the store traditionally sold both fabric and ready-to-wear uniforms. The rush is usually to get the fabric early to beat the rush with the dressmaker, and then the ready to wear uniforms go later. Abed said that a 15 per cent decrease had been observed as parents had definitely cut back.“We do the traditional 20 per cent discount across the board, which we do all summer, every summer. There is no increase in prices over last year; however, there are some instances where prices have been reduced,” he said.“With another four weeks left in the holiday, parents are guaranteed that we will not run out of anything . . . because we have a good estimate of sales from year to year,” Abed added.