Parents still prefer stores over web for schoolwear

JODY O'CALLAGHAN EDUCATION
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2013

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Online second-hand school uniform sales may be increasing, but parents still prefer to buy off the rack when wanting new.

The countdown is on as thousands of pupils prepare to return to school, and family wallets already strained by Christmas spendups are further plundered for school uniforms.

While Trade Me has seen a steady increase in listings for second-hand uniforms, a Wellington uniform supplier believes most parents prefer traditional shopping.

NZ Uniforms managing director David Bunnell said it was one industry not embracing the online phenomenon.

About 90 per cent of parents preferred physically going into its Thorndon shop, or the school shops it stocks, rather than ordering from the company's website.

Sales rose "exponentially" in the last two weeks of school holidays, he said.

While 3 per cent of total sales were put on layby, many families were choosing to buy extra items, he said.

More than half of his Wellington Girls' College customers were choosing to buy optional blazers, priced at nearly $300.

Prices varied between schools and depended on fabric quality.

"The old rules still apply, you get what you pay for," he said.

Moana Clothing managing director Paul Frampton said parents may see uniform prices increase next year.

A strong New Zealand dollar meant his company, which supplied uniforms to about 30 Wellington schools, had been able to keep wholesale and fabric import prices low.

But prices would need to increase to meet inflation.

Trade Me reported a constant increase in second-hand uniform listings, up 13 per cent from 2012 to 2013, and 20 per cent from 2010 to 2011.

In the first 12 days of January , 4061 boys' uniforms and 4337 girls' uniforms were listed on the site - compared with the 2564 boys uniforms and 3302 girls uniforms listed at the same time in 2010.

"It comes as no surprise that January is the biggest month for buying and selling used school uniforms on Trade Me," spokesman Jeff Hunkin said.

Listing numbers rose quickly after the Christmas period, peaked in January, then usually eased in February. "It's likely that parents, after the stress of gift buying and holiday organising, finally turn their sights to the year ahead."

Family Budgeting chief executive Raewyn Fox said its free advice phoneline had its busiest day ever on Tuesday, and financial pressures had come early this year.

She forecast another burst in calls for help when the real pressure of back-to-school costs kicked in next week.

Wellington mother Helen Lane has set up a website for parents to trade used uniforms for school and sports.

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Its address is www.schoolies.co. nz. Reselling uniforms generated much-needed money for families, she said. Three days after going live, 20 parents had listed items for sale on the site, which had the ability to search for uniforms within all 2500 schools nationwide.

- The Dominion Post

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