There has been an average six per cent increase in book prices over last year, a survey conducted by the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), has revealed.
The results were presented at a press conference, today (August 19), held at Jamaica Promotions (JAMPRO), in Kingston.
State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern, who spoke at the event, said the results of this year’s textbook survey are very encouraging.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern (left), engages Chief Executive Officer of the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Dolsie Allen, in conversation during a press briefing, held to release the results of the annual textbook survey, at Jamaica Promotions (JAMPRO), in Kingston, today (August 19).
“While no consumer welcomes a price increase, the increase in prices is three per cent lower than the average price increase recorded the previous year,” he informed journalists.
Mr. Stern said the Government is committed to helping to keep school expenses down, especially as it relates to the prices of textbooks. He noted that factors such as the Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX), which helped to stabilise the dollar and reduce inflation, contributed to this year’s lower rate of increase in prices.
Sixty-two bookstores were included in the survey conducted from July 26 to 30, and which focused on 124 textbooks covering 19 subject areas at the secondary level and 10 at the primary school level.
The survey was intended to gather information on the prices of the most popular textbooks used in the country and their availability. This information is expected to help parents and guardians in their decision making as they shop for books for their children.
In total, 23 bookshops were surveyed in the Kingston Metropolitan Area. The results showed that in this region price dispersions for secondary level textbooks varied between 0 per cent (no price differences across bookstores) and 34 per cent (wide variation in prices across bookstores).
The greatest variance was among novels for Literatures in English. They varied between 0 and 25 per cent, which could be attributed to the fact that some books with the same title may not be comparable, given the differences in publishers, textual notes or printing aesthetics.
In total, 39 bookshops were surveyed in the Other Towns. The areas surveyed included parts of St. Catherine (with the exception of Portmore and Spanish Town), May Pen, Christiana, Mandeville, Santa Cruz, Savanna-la-Mar, Hopewell, Lucea, Montego Bay, Falmouth, St. Ann’s Bay, Brown’s Town, Port Maria, Port Antonio and Morant Bay.
The prices for primary school books were closely distributed across towns outside of the KMA. It was found that most of the 32 primary school books surveyed deviated from their average prices by 1per cent to 10 per cent on average. There was a greater level of variance among secondary textbooks, with most of them deviating from their average prices by 0 to 29 per cent.
The survey found that novels for English Language and Literature had the greatest level of availability across the island, while those for the natural sciences and metal work technology, the lowest. The CAC explained that most of the books with low availability were the ones which were available under the Government’s book rental programme.
Availability of textbooks was measured by the percentage of bookstores that had the texts at the time of the survey.
In light of the findings of the survey, Acting Senior Economist/Analyst at the CAC, Racquel Chambers, is encouraging parents and guardians to be creative in their spending and make use of available deals.
“There are some bookstores that have used and secondhand books that are in relatively good condition. There are many stores that have competitively good prices, so we are encouraging our consumers, bargains are around, use our data to choose your route where you will shop for the cheapest books,” she advised.
Consumers can visit the CAC’s website to compare prices for particular books across stores at: http://www.consumeraffairsjamaica.gov.jm/