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  • Planning, making a list, shopping around, and spending wisely are some of the back-to-school preparation recommendations from the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC).
  • Communications Specialist at the CAC, Dorothy Campbell, urges parents not to over-extend themselves physically and financially.
  • She points out that parents can also network with the school, teachers or other parents, to find out what are the necessary items, the things that the child needs to have for the first morning or term.

Planning, making a list, shopping around, and spending wisely are some of the recommendations that the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is encouraging parents to consider, when shopping for back-to-school supplies.

Communications Specialist at the CAC, Dorothy Campbell, urges parents to analyse their financial status, so as to determine where funds will be sourced and the best places to procure back-to-school supplies, in order not to over-extend themselves physically and financially.

“You should start from a planning point and separate your wants from needs…determine how much you have to spend to get the things that are needed, and what will have to wait,” Miss Campbell advises.

She points out that parents can also network with the school, teachers or other parents, to find out what are the necessary items, the things that the child needs to have for the first morning or term.

“Make sure you understand what those things are, in order to determine the things that you can wait to acquire at the next pay cheque or the next few months,” Miss Campbell adds.

Parents, she continues, should make a shopping list as this allows them to practise controlled shopping and prevent them from depending on memory and overspending.

In terms of uniforms, the Communication Specialist notes that it is necessary for parents to “find out the right colours, fabric and style and then determine how much you will have to spend…whether you can only buy two uniforms and alter the others or purchase another later in the school year.”

“You may also have to purchase accessories such as ties, epaulettes,  badges, crest…find out the cost of these additional items and get them so that your child is properly attired in the correct uniform and comfortable on his return to school,” Miss Campbell says.

She also reminds shoppers to thoroughly examine items being purchased to ensure they do not have any flaws. “Check buttons, zippers, examine the quality of fabric, and pull on the seam to make sure that it is stitched properly,” Miss Campbell urges.

Regarding textbooks, Miss Campbell says parents should consider the various options available, and settle on the one that best meets their budget. In instances where parents decide to purchase new books from bookstores, she directs them to peruse the CAC’s Annual School Textbook Survey results, which is posted on their website: www.cac.gov.jm

The survey, she explains, will assist parents in ascertaining which outlets in their town or parish provides the best prices on new books that are available. Otherwise, the Communication Specialist recommends that parents do comparisons by calling or visiting bookstores in order to get the most competitive prices.

She also advises parents to explore all the possible options for sourcing textbooks, including the school book rental scheme, second hand books from family and friends, as well as from stores offering second hand books for sale.

Miss Campbell suggests the following tips:

  • For school supplies, take advantage of bargains and buy multiple quantities that the child may need further in the year. If you purchase two pairs of shoes, pants or shirts, buy the second pair a size or two larger, as the child may grow by the time he or she is ready to use these items.
  • When buying notebooks, try getting those with hard covers as they tend to last longer.
  • Before purchasing new uniforms, examine those the child already has to see if they can still be worn, then decide how many additional ones are needed. (Some schools have ready-made uniforms available on sale to their students. This may prove less expensive than buying the fabric and accessories and having the garments made by a professional tailor or dressmaker).
  • When buying shoes, ensure they are of quality workmanship and fit properly. Avoid impulse shopping and ensure that you are getting the best quality. Check shoes for stitched or glued soles. Check to ensure that eyelets, laces and buckles do not break or fall off easily.
  • Do not be fooled into thinking that ‘brand names’ are synonymous with better quality; the generic or not so popular brands may last longer. Insist on comfort and durability then incorporate style.
  • When buying ready-made clothes or having them made, ensure that buttons are sewn on strongly, zips work easily, there is a seam allowance, and that there are no loose threads to give the clothes an untidy appearance.
  • When buying bags, you may be tempted to choose a stylish bag, rather than how practical and durable the design and fabric are. Remember these bags need to be durable enough for the weight of textbooks and other supplies.

For further information on consumer-related issues or queries, persons can call the CAC at 906-5425, visit their website at www.cac.gov.jm or facebook page at www.facebook.com/cac.gov.jm.