Back To School Shopping Season it is!

January 9, 2023

Happy New Year!

With the beginning of a new year and just weeks away from a new school term, parents and guardians would be on the lookout for back-to-school specials and affordable deals on uniforms and stationery.

Parents across the country may already be pouring over school supply lists to ensure their children are adequately prepared for classroom learning. Back-to-school preparation may be difficult for some because purchasing classroom essentials not only takes time but also costs a lot of money. Therefore, after indulging in festivities, planning ahead of time and purchasing wisely can make a big difference to your budget. Planning ahead would save parents/guardians from the headache of the toss and turn with last-minute shopping.

Before heading out to shop.

Parents and guardians need to be strategic in their back-to-school shopping to ensure they get the best deals in town. The following are some essential tips that need to be considered before heading out to shop.

  1. Make a list and create a budget

Prepare a school list – of what all is required. Sit down with your child and go over the list together. This would help crosscheck the items needed as well as assist the child to get organized. Ensure to do an inventory check at home to find out if stationeries; school uniforms and bags from previous years can be reused. Once done, create a budget based on how much you have to spend and what you need to get. Whether you shop online or in-store, stick to the list and the budget.

2. Research big ticket items

Before purchasing that expensive laptop, tablet, bags or even shoes, research about the different brands and check for warranty, terms and conditions, and customer reviews.

3. Compare prices

Use websites, smartphone apps and social media to research about products, compare prices, and find sales and discounts. You can also compare prices at different stores before finalizing your purchase. This is why it is essential that you start early and not wait till the last minute.

Smart Tip

Try and also ask for student discounts. Many stores can offer discounts. If you do not see a discount advertised; it does not hurt to ask.

What all to look out for when out shopping!

After the pre-planning has been concluded, parents and guardians can smartly head out for their shopping. When doing so, the following tips must be considered.

  1. Make smart purchases

Do not purchase items because of aesthetic reasons but for the functionality and durability of the product. Consumers should not be fooled by the premium pricing, nor should they be easily swayed by the extravagant decorations and novel accessories. Also, ensure to purchase the correct size of your child’s uniform and shoes- try before making the purchases.

2. Check receipts

Consumers must check their receipts for cash price displayed and paid prices. Besides checking the receipt, you must keep the receipt for any redress you might need in the future.

3. Shopping as an investment

Parents should view their back-to-school shopping as an “investment” rather than a one-off affair. When purchasing items, they should buy quality items that would last long and provide value for money.

4. Check for refund and exchange policies

Be sure you can exchange or return items purchased. Keep in mind some items may have restocking fees associated with a return. You should never assume that you have the right to return an item unless you have checked the stores return policy. Some stores have their own in-store policy to offer a refund, exchange or credit note for ‘change-of-mind’ purchases. Check the retailer’s returns policy or terms and conditions before you buy. Retailers can choose not to include items on special or on sale in their refund policy, eg ‘no change of mind refunds on sale items’.

Planning to Shop Online?

If you are planning to do your back-to-school shopping online, take note of the following tips to protect yourself;
✓ Make sure to shop on secure websites only.
✓ Use familiar websites or research and read reviews of new websites and check that links start with https (not just http; the “s” stands for secure) or have a padlock icon.
✓ Avoid typing your personal information when using unsecured Wi-Fi. Do not click on links in unsolicited emails or on social media sites—type the address directly into your browser.
✓ Do not forget to check return policies and redress mechanisms of the online business in order to ensure that you have fail safes in place in case something goes wrong.

What do the parents have to say?

Speaking to the Consumer Council of Fiji (CCoF) Shabnam Bibi shared that in order to avoid rushing at the last minute, she started her preparations a few weeks before. As shopping for her two boys can be expensive, she emphasized the importance of making a list, sticking to a budget, and starting early.

“If you are out and about in different stores, you would definitely notice that prices are high, hence, it becomes our responsibility as parents to teach our children to reuse some of the items from previous years and we need to conduct comparative shopping for items which needs to be purchased,” she added.

Iva Nasau has already prepared her shopping list and budget for back-to-school shopping. She explained that organizing for her two kids can be stressful and shared that this year her kids would be wearing their last year’s uniform because they were still in excellent condition.

“For those parents like me that cannot afford everything new for your kids, please utilize what you have already. If you are a parent who is able to assist your relatives and friends, please do so for the benefit of the children who will be returning to school,” she emphasized.

When things go wrong

Parents who face issues while shopping for school supplies are encouraged to contact the Council on toll-free number 155 or email complaints@consumersfiji.org. Alternatively, complaints can also be lodged on the Consumer Council of Fiji Mobile App available for Download on Google Play Store.


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