MBABANE– Hiked prices are a major concern as parents embark on their last- minute rush to buy uniforms ahead of the opening of schools next week.
With the festive season having taken its valedictory strides, hundreds of parents and children have begun doing their usual last minute mad rush to buy uniforms, footwear and various other related items to start off the new school calendar.
A spot check conducted in shops around the capital highlighted the frustrations of parents over increased prices, which they said were hitting hard on their already drained pockets given the recent conclusion of the festive season.
Among parents who were found doing their shopping at Pep Stores Swazi Plaza in Mbabane was Khosi Kgamedi (40) of Mbangweni Township, also situated towards the western end of the capital. She was found helping her son Alupheli (7) and daughter Tsholofelo (9) to fit their new pairs of school shoes, which they had just selected from the shelves.
Speaking during an interview, the 40-year-old woman lamented the increased prices of school uniforms around several shops she visited. She said she was shocked to find that the shoes for her two children were cheaper to purchase around December when she first conducted her random check. After comparing prices, the woman realised that she had to pay an additional E100 to the price she had budgeted for. Her budget had been informed by her earlier visit to the shops around December.
The woman disclosed that back then that a pair of shoes for her son had been priced at E180, as opposed to the E279 price she found when she did her actual shopping on Monday.
“Imagine, I had to fork out an extra E100. I regret that I wasn’t able to purchase the shoes back in December. I was disturbed by the festive season and poor planning,” she lamented.
She was not the only one, as many others shared their frustrations over increased prices on items like stationery and text books.
Sebenzile Dlamini, the Store Manager at Pep Stores Swazi Plaza, explained that shopping had been a bit slow since they started stocking for the back- to-school items during the past festive season.
She said buying at that time was confined to luxury items, whereas for the back- to- school items people would only come into the shop to compare prices and then leave. She then invited parents to come to her shop, assuring them that they would be able to find whatever they need at affordable prices.
“The real shopping for school items started today as this marked the pay day for several workers. The shop opened normally at around 9am, but things started changing as early as 9:30am as many customers started flocking into the shop. Some have even taken time off their workplaces hoping to get a few items before we run out of stock. It is always a problem. People just wait until the reality of school opening sinks in, especially on the few remaining days before the actual opening date,” she said, adding “We always advise our customers to pick a few things during the festive period in order to avoid disappointments on the last hour, as many people will be going after the same things.”
At around 11 am when the Independent News team paid a visit to the shop tills were ringing endlessly, as many parents had joined the long queue which was continuing to snake around the shop.
It was a typical case of the early birds catching the big worm as many parents and children who arrived early at the shops were able to secure most of the wanted items.
Other parents echoed the same song about high prices for the school items.
“It is tough out there, we do not have enough money around this time of the year yet the prices have gone up,” complained another frustrated parent.