Retailers foresee back-to-school uniform boost

After a difficult 20 months during which normal schooling was disrupted and many pupils switched to online learning due to Covid protocols, school uniform retailers are optimistic about a return to normal and stronger demand ahead of the coming school year. This is according to a recent article in Business Day.

However, the outlook remains unclear as signs of a fourth wave increase:

  • Retailers say they have enough stock to weather the supply chain store
  • Supply chains are now skewed to the larger, more profitable markets such as the US. Countries such as SA have to wait in line
  • Stock has been acquired through advance planning or local procurement
  • Shane van Niekerk, MD of TFG’s Jet chain, said the group is “definitely” expecting this year’s season to be stronger than last year’s
  • There is an expectation that the academic year will have a normal start
  • All of Jet’s school uniform items, including shoes, are manufactured in SA
  • Jet’s supplier maintains there is no shortage of fabric for uniforms
  • Price increases are expected in the next round of orders
  • Grant Walker, director at McCullagh & Bothwell, the 125-year-old school uniform and menswear supplier, said that while it is “too early to really tell” what demand for school uniforms will be like this season, the sense is that “we should move into a more normal back-to-school cycle”.
  • Lawrence Pillay, head of sourcing at Woolworths, said the group’s schoolwear had “not been impacted by disruptions affecting others such as the slowdown in manufacturing in China and other supply chain disruptions”
  • Marc Swiel, CEO of School & Leisure, a specialist retailer of schoolwear and related products to more than 230 schools, said his group is reliant on “minimal imported fabrics” for its schoolwear, as 95% of what it uses is sourced locally. The group has eight outlets in Johannesburg and Cape Town

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