Back to school shopping

January 12, 2021

With the start of the 2021 school year looming for most, parents are scrambling on all fronts to prepare their children for a new school year. At this time, everything is still up in the air as many navigate their way around the devastation suffered due to Tropical Cyclone Yasa. For some, the question may be, how will I be able to cater for my child’s school needs? For those affected, the question may be, what will their day-to-day schedule look like?

Understandably, consumers are entering this shopping season cautiously. There is a consensus that there is a lot to unpack and there are definitely more questions than answers but this does not change the fact that many will still need to prepare for the coming school year.

Back-to-school shopping is an exciting rite of passage for you and your child, but it is also a chore. New is fun—new beginnings, new teachers, new friends, new clothes, new kicks, new school supplies, new lunch kit, and a new backpack. But this yearly ritual may sometimes become overwhelming and stressful, financially, organizationally, and emotionally. Outfitting kids with all the new gear they will need can feel like a mammoth task.

 Where to start with Back-to-School shopping?

It is important to check with your child’s school for their specific lists, which may vary greatly from grade-to-grade, school-to-school, and teacher-to-teacher. Then, compare the list of suggested items with what you already have. Sometimes, backpacks, lunch bags, notebooks, pencil boxes for instance will last for several years, other times they may wear out more quickly and need to be replaced annually or more often.

 Cost of School Supplies

Spending a little time to check prices at various retailers often results in significant savings. Traders usually match prices to foster competition so identifying the trader with affordable prices that are within your budget range could prove to be fruitful.

 Clothes for going Back-to-School

It’s no secret that kids grow like weeds, so the back-to-school season is a great time to review your child’s wardrobe and supplement with needed items. If you have several kids who all attend the same school consider taking a look at their uniforms and see what can be reused for the new school year. Uniforms however, are just one part of clothing for back to school. Consider what your child needs, from vests, handkerchief, tights, half-slips, undergarments, camisoles to name a few and determine if these are needed for the new school year.

Getting Shoes for School

How many pairs of shoes do your kids need, and what kind, will vary with their activity level and their school’s dress-code policies. Keep in mind that some schools prohibit flip flops or other open-toed sandals, particularly for little kids, and on Physical Education (PE) days to avoid tripping or other accidents.

Back-to-School Accessories

Your child’s accessory needs come down to individual needs and personal taste—although just about every student will need a backpack. Some of the other accessories you may want to consider include:

  • Backpack
  • Belt
  • Face masks
  • Ponytail holders and/or hair clips
  • Outerwear for School (Raincoat, windbreaker, and/or fleece jacket)

Quick Tips

  • Spread out purchases – instead of shopping for all your kids’ supplies at once save money at the same time by spreading out purchases over a few weeks.
  • Make a list – even if you do not have the exact list from the school, you should have an idea of what to purchase regarding school clothes and basic supplies. Write everything down on a list and stick to it. Impulse buying can increase your expenses drastically.
  • Look for the deals – some traders offer back-to-school specials. Check your local newspaper or mainstream mediums such as radio and television for special back to school deals and shop sooner rather than later and save more.
  • Set a budget – Decide how much you are willing to spend and cross check your purchases against your list to make sure you are getting everything within the budget you have allocated. Remember to buy only what is needed.
  • Check for refund and exchange policies – Be sure you can exchange or return items purchased during this time. Keep in mind some items may be non-refundable or 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.

There is no doubt that 2020 has flipped us all upside down and inside out – and that was before school started. Getting ready to send precious little beings to school is scary and filled with uncertainty at this time. The only thing many have control over is how to prepare, and to have a plan. Think through all the possible school options and be ready for them. Be thoughtful with what you buy, and do so only after you have visualized what their schooling environment will be like in the coming school year.

 Consumers facing issues are urged to raise their concerns with the Consumer Council via toll free helpline 155 or email Alternatively, consumers can lodge their complaints using the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app.