Tag: back to school

Back to school – for some

As parents and children prepare for the beginning of the 2017 academic year in Gauteng, some children still do not know whether they will be able to attend school this year.

According to Oupa Bodibe, spokesperson for the Gauteng Department of Education, on 9 January about 58 000 children still needed to be placed in schools across the province. This means that most of those children will miss the first day of school.

DA Shadow MEC for Education, Khume Ramulifho has reiterated his party’s call that all schoolchildren must be placed by the first day of school. “Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi must prioritise all learners who applied to be placed in schools last year to ensure they start learning from day one,” Ramulifho said.

He lamented that there were still many children who were yet to be placed, despite applying on time.

Ramulifho urged Lesufi to provide more resources to schools with high demand. “These include more classrooms, teachers and materials.” He said parents were put in a difficult financial position when their children were not placed, as they could not budget for uniforms and school fees. Adding that the online registration process should be used to plan and manage placements with necessary resources.

Meanwhile, Lesufi has assured parents that their children will be placed soon. The department has asked for patience from parents, especially those who applied late, highlighting that their children would be placed by at least the end of February.

Source: www.randburgsun.co.za

BIC reports strong BTS sales

BIC has reported that its stationery net sales for the first nine months of 2016 decreased by 0,6% but grew by 4,6% on a constant currency basis.

In Europe, the increase in nine-month net sales was in the high single-digits. The back-to-school sell-out was good, especially in France (where BIC gained market share for the 12th year in a row) and in the UK.

In North America, BIC registered low-single digit growth in the nine-month period. Market growth during back-to-school was in the mid-single digits (in value terms) with gains market share thanks notably to the performance of its top selling products.

Sales growth was in the low-single digIts in Latin America, with gains in market share in Brazil. In the Middle-East and Africa, BIC delivered very strong growth along with market share gains in South Africa and a good performance in Morocco.

Source: www.office-times.com

Traditionally, the back-to-school season has been one of the biggest for the stationery industry. But a new plan by the Department of Education could see this lucrative period become a thing of the past.

National policy
In 2014, the South African government drafted the National Policy for the Provision and Management of Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) for public comment.

The policy is intended to guide the provision and management of LTSM, including textbooks, home economics equipment and science laboratory equipment, and is aimed at all levels in the system, from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to provinces, districts and schools. This will affect all public (government) schools in the country.

LTSM is defined as a variety of learning and teaching materials used in classroom. These range from teacher- and learner-created resources to commercially produced classroom resources such as wall charts, workbooks, textbooks, e-books, readers, stationery, science kits, dictionaries, encyclopaedias and so on.

A recent article by The Daily Maverick discussing e-tenders and the procurement process stated that in education, procurement centralisation had reduced the costs of a year’s learning material and stationery pack to R130, down from R460, for each of the country’s 12-million pupils.

Minimum schoolbag
This pack is known as the “minimum schoolbag”, and is determined by grade and subject. It includes, among other things:

  • Exercise books
  • Exam pads
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Sharpener
  • Eraser
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Pencil case
  • Flip file

According to a Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, the Gauteng Department of Education has appointed three service providers in the province for the management and distribution of LTSM for the 2017 school year. These companies are Zylec Investments (textbooks), African Paper Products (stationery) and Palm Stationery Manufacturers (stationery). Bongani Rainmaker Logistics will be responsible for placing orders with these service providers.

A circular published by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education indicated it will be distributing “stationery items in the form of phase-specific learner packs for use in 2017” to selected schools. It also indicated that schools may utilise the “LTSM Other” allocation to supplement “non-learner stationery items such as photocopy paper, teachers’ files and stationery for classroom use”.

The way forward
While the government has arguably struggled with service delivery in the past – most memorably with the Limpopo textbook debacle of 2012 – they are now ramping up efforts to deliver on promises. Procurement has been made more efficient and less corrupt through the e-tender platform, and tender information is publicly available so that service providers are held accountable. It may not happen next year, or even in the next five years, but the chances are good that LTSM will be rolled out across all nine provinces by 2022.

Figures from 2013 show that there are 11 975 844 learners in 24 136 public schools, while there are only 513 804 learners in 1 584 independent (private) schools. This implies an enormous loss of consumers for which parents need to buy stationery.

The stationery industry will need to rethink its position in the market if it is to survive this onslaught on its most lucrative season of the year.

The fashion brand Kate Spade is most known for luxury handbags. But it is also banking on gold-accented staplers, monogrammed planners and R450 ballpoint pens to help buoy sales during the increasingly important back-to-school shopping season.

The discount retailer Dollar Tree is also expecting students and their parents to lift sales, particularly after an unusually weak second quarter. But instead of fancy notebooks, it is focusing on the other end of the price spectrum, like R15 packs of tape, glue sticks, and pencils.

As the income gap in the United States has turned into a chasm, luxury and discount retailers have become increasingly deft at attracting people at the separate ends of the income spectrum. Stores positioned for the middle, like traditional department stores, have struggled by comparison.

These days, that divide extends more than ever to what students wear and carry with them to their school lockers.

“Both luxury retailers and value stores, like dollar stores, are benefiting right now from the back-to-school trend,” says Jharonne Martis, a retail analyst with Thomson Reuters. “They’re really benefiting from their core consumer.”

Parents expect to spend an average of $673.57 on electronics, clothes and notebooks this year, compared with $630.36 last year, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group. In total, parents of kindergarten through 12th-grade students say they will spend $27,3-billion on school supplies this year, up from $18,4-billion in 2007.

The back-to-school season is the second-biggest shopping period of the year, behind Christmas. But while families will spend more than before, how they will do it — and where they will do it — varies widely.

A growing list of designer notebooks, luxury desk accessories and even beanbag chairs now caters to wealthy back-to-school shoppers. Shoppers can buy a $195 Gucci headband, a $572 Versace backpack, and a $28 Terez pencil case on the back-to-school section of Saks’ website. Restoration Hardware has a new “teen” line that includes a $2,000 “riveted aluminum” desk and $250 faux fur beanbag chairs.

Martis said she expected Kate Spade’s desk accessories and stationery products to be a big focus this season, projecting that sales would rise 7 percent this quarter at stores open at least a year. (The company said it could not make executives available for an interview.)

But back-to-school items are also expected to buoy sales at discount retailers like T.J. Maxx, whose appeal is increasingly wide and which aim at the growing number of poor students and families in the United States.

In 2007, about 9-million public school students came from low-income households, according to the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. In 2014, there were more than 11-million, according to the most recent data.

Some of these families rely on backpack drives and other support from nonprofit or community groups. Many, though, are left seeking the best deals.

Retailers, including the discount stores, have responded by pushing bigger promotions earlier in the shopping season. That, in turn, has seemed to push people to do research on their own: Back-to-school search queries rose sharply the week of July 11, a full week earlier than last year, according to data released recently by Google.

Retailers who cater to middle-class consumers have been struggling, slashing prices in what has become an aggressive race to the bottom.

Sales at traditional department stores have slumped, and once-mighty institutions like Macy’s and Sears have had to close stores.

By Rachel Abrams for the New York Times

Nearly three of every five back-to-school shoppers this year expect to purchase some type of technology item, be it a smartphone, tablet, portable memory drive, calculator or headphones, according to the Consumer Technology Association.

That figure (59%) is a full 12% higher than consumers who said the same thing last year, according to the CTA. All told, consumers are expected to spend $18.5 billion on back-to-school tech products this year (up 6.5% over last year).

“This growth in tech spend is a reflection of tech becoming a frequently used medium for learning and commonplace in schools across the country,” says Janvier Depeazer, senior research analyst for CTA.

“At this point, tech is being used for teaching all different ages, and for many older students it’s becoming a required need for success in high school and college.”

Among the top items shoppers are expecting to purchase are portable memory sticks (71% of consumers expect to purchase them), basic calculators (55%), headphones (52%) and laptops (44%).

“Compared to last year, the top anticipated back-to-school tech purchase remained the same as portable memory, and the top five tech items remain the same but the order differs,” Depeazer says.

Other expected purchases include carrying or protective cases (48%), software (39%) and product subscriptions (22%).

Nearly all (95%) of BTS shoppers plan to visit brick-and-mortar stores to make these purchases, including mass retailers (88%), office supply stores (56%) and department stores (47%). Only 36% plan to visit a consumer technology store, according to the organization.

“Generally, a tech purchase decision that involves more research may result in an in-store purchase after a chance to interact/demo the product and ask questions to salespeople,” Depeazer says.

Even so, nearly half (49%) of shoppers will also hit online retailers including online-only retailers (80%), retailer Web sites (69%) and auction Web sites (35%).

By Aaron Baar for www.mediapost.com

Just one month after a judge put the kibosh on a merger between America’s two biggest office supply retailers, the companies are going head-to-head to win customers.

In preparation for one of its busiest sales periods of the year, Office Depot says it will hire 33% more US workers this summer, to beef up its customer service for teachers, students and parents during the back-to-school season. That translates to an additional 2 000 workers compared with last summer, for a total of 8 000 new hires.

The news comes a day after Staples, the larger of the two competitors, said it will offer same-day delivery in several major markets for a fee of $14.99.

“This is our big season, the back-to-school season, so this is when we do the most of our seasonal hiring,” Lynn Gross, Office Depot’s vice president of human resources for retail, told CNBC. “[This year’s boost is] not necessarily related to the merger, but it definitely, I think, is a sign that we are moving forward as a stand-alone company and focused on providing superior customer service.”

Gross said most of the summer hires will assist with in-store needs such as stocking shelves, helping customers and working the checkout register. The retailer is also putting a big emphasis on its buy online, pick up in store service, so the hires will also help with those needs. However, Gross said the seasonal employees’ duties will fall roughly in line with previous summers.

Because the retailer closed 181 US stores in 2015, the incremental hires will translate into about five more employees per store, she added.

Seasonal associates typically work 22 to 28 hours a week, and their time does not cut into existing employees’ hours, Gross said. In general, seasonal employees work from July through September, depending on a market’s school calendar. Though Office Depot could not provide specific numbers, some of these employees are brought on permanently.

Gross declined to comment on pay, except to say that the company’s compensation practices vary by market, and that it does its best to stay competitive.

Staples did not respond to CNBC’s request for information on its back-to-school plans.

Since a May court ruling declared Office Depot and Staples’ merger a bust, analysts have questioned whether both could continue to exist as stand-alone companies. Staples management was quick to lay out its plan for growth, which includes closing more of its North America stores and ramping up its offerings for businesses. Its recovery plan hit a bump last week, when CEO Ron Sargent resigned.

As for Office Depot, management has offered few details regarding its strategies. The company said it has hired consulting firm Bain & Co. to assist with identifying strategic alternatives, and last month, it announced a $100-million stock repurchase programme.

In their attempt to merge, the two retailers argued Amazon was transforming the market for office supplies. But that argument was rejected.

By Krystina Gustafson for www.cnbc.com

Many children experience some degree of “back-to-school anxiety” as the school year begins. Typical stressors may include worries about making new friends, managing new or difficult teachers, increased academic workload, or being away from parents, or transitional issues, such as starting at a new school or moving into middle or high school. Whereas some school-related anxiety is normal, excessive anxiety and worry can negatively affect a child’s functioning at school, as well as with peers and at home.

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Other than the winter holiday season, back-to-school (BTS) and back-to-college (BTC) are, together, the largest retail event of the year. In 2015, the National Retail Federation (NRF) anticipates that combined BTS and BTC spending in the US will reach $68-billion, of which BTS accounts for approximately $25-billion, says Ruth Hamer, director of Digital Marketing at Marketyze.

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