Monday, September 20
12:18 PM

Back-to-school shopping gathers momentum; CPA warns against price hikes

15 Sep 2021 By SHADDAD AL MUSALMY

Muscat – While school stationery retailers are delivering strong sales this week boosted by back-to-school shopping being done by thousands of students who will be going to school from Sunday, Consumer Protection Authority (CPA) has warned such dealers against price hikes. The CPA has urged people to inform the authority in case they notice any price hikes of school items.

“The CPA has been following up the prices of stationery items, clothes and other school items and has made sure to assure the provision of all the requirements needed by customers in sufficient quantities and give multiple alternatives to them,” a CPA official said.

With thousands of students returning to schools, most of them are usually seen sporting new uniforms and carrying new school bags, files and stationery. This proves that getting children ready for the new academic year is an expensive affair.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) issued a decision that the academic year 2021/2022 will start on September 12, and ends on July 7, 2022 while classes for students will begin on Sunday, September 19.

Even though parents feel prices of school items have not gone up, some say they are looking for the best bargains.

“Even though the prices are good, I am not sure of the quality of the items. I feel the quality we get in the market is not on par with the prices being offered. Continuous supervision of markets by authorities will discourage traders who are always keen to make money in such time,” Yahya Rashid, a father of three, said.

And for the next two days markets will be teeming with hundreds of people looking to purchase school items, footwear and garments.

Spending power

“Shopping is yet to pick up because many wait for the last minute shopping. We expect a lot of customers this coming weekend. But people nowadays are cautious on what they buy. Spending power has come down,” said one shop attendant selling school items.

According to shoppers, the current economic situation in the country may have forced many to adopt personal austerity measures.

“During this time, we have to prepare ourselves for shopping but we have to keep in mind the economic crisis and reduce expenses. In fact, I have tried to cut on my shopping; I buy the most necessary items. I used to buy five dishdashas for my boys but now I go with three,” said Sawsan al Ajmi, an Omani shopper.

Intensive inspection campaigns have been carried out by CPA with working teams consisting of judicial officers to work on inspecting various centres and shops in general, and bookshops, and stores selling fabrics and shoes in particular, to ensure the availability of all school goods and supplies at fare prices.

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