No price increase in school supplies

From left, Cassandra Castro, cashier; Colleen Rana, sales representative; and Wilma De Leon, accountant at Modern Office Supply in San Jose. (Bea Cabrera)

Prices of school supplies have remained constant this school year, according to a roundup of stores on Saipan.

Wilma de Leon, accountant at Modern Office Supply in San Jose, said their prices have stayed pretty much the same as last year’s.

“We did not have an increase in the store so parents and students can expect to see the prices of office and school supplies in our store to be affordable. Even though our costs went up, our prices did not,” she said.

De Leon said the company chose not to increase the prices at Modern Office Supply, concerned as they are with family incomes that have remained stagnant.

Also, she projects sales figures this year to stay the same as last year’s. “Even if the Public School System removed some items from their school supplies list, the school still goes to us to buy the items that were omitted so they can provide to their students,” she added.

De Leon said the surge of people shopping for school supplies started two weeks ago. “People started to pour in to get school supplies two weeks ago because the private schools opened early, like the first week of August, while PSS will start Aug. 15, 2018.”

The store is open from 8am to 7pm but De Leon said they do extend hours when they still have customers beyond closing hours. “We understand that parents only have time after work.”

She said they’ve been getting over a hundred customers every day since private schools started classes and they expect more customer traffic in the weeks to come.

The National Office Supply on Beach Road also did not impose a price increase. In fact, “…we are even offering a back to school discount,” said National Office Supply’s Alice Legaspi.

The store started its back-to-school preparations last week, Legaspi said, to accommodate the opening of private schools and PSS this week.

“I notice that we get more people as the day of the school opening draws near and we understand that because parents have time after work and some wait for payday,” she added.

As for sales, Legaspi believes that sales will be lower this year than last year’s. “I think our sales will be affected by the CW-1 situation. We all know that a lot of CW-1 workers were sent home because of expired visas. Some of them have children attending school on island and since the parents had to leave Saipan, the children went with them,” she said.

“I know this to be true because I’m a CW-1 worker…based on personal knowledge, enrolment this school year went down a little because of children that went home with their parents who had CW status… I also know several parents transferred their children from private to publics schools so there is a student population ‘shift’ in a way,” she added.

Elena Justo, sales representative of Digitech Computer Services in Garapan, said their laptop sales is better this year than last year’s.

“Parents are more open for their children to have their own computers. Laptops are no longer a luxury but a necessity in school,” she said.

“Most of our customers are high school students from PSS and the sales of our laptops went up recently because of the school opening,” she added.

The zero-price increase in the prices of school supplies on island has relieved many parents. “We are very happy that school supplies are still affordable. I noticed that the price of pencils and notebooks are the same as last year’s,” said Maricel Bayog, mother of a 2nd grader at Garapan Elementary School.

“We welcome this as we not only get what my child needs for school but we also have savings and can use the money for other things. It’s also good that the PSS list of school supplies decreased this year and it is only asking for really basic items like notebooks, pencils, pens, etc.,” she added.

Jona Cordova, a mother of a first grader at Koblerville Elementary School, is also relieved that the required list of school supplies has been cut short. “Now we only have to think of getting basic school items,” she said.

Cordova also lauded school supply stores for keeping prices down. “When we started shopping for school supplies last week, my husband and I were relieved to see no price increases and we did not have to come up with a bigger budget this year.”

Bea Cabrera Cabrera
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.

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