Season of exciting school goodies

It's 'back-to-school' time. While students are excited about the smell of new books and uniforms, and ready to flaunt their bags with that latest Batman picture, parents are wringing their hands as money slips through their fingers in no time. Malls and outlets have no complaints, anyway, finds out DHANUSHA GOKULAN

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Published: Sat 23 Aug 2008, 1:18 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 5:09 PM

Summer break was filled with fun and excitement, and hours of enjoyment at home and under the sun. Now, it's time to get back to the school.

Like at the end of the every summer vacation, malls and retail outlets across the UAE have once again come out with promotional offers of a whole range of brand-new school goodies. School bags, stationery items, uniforms and shoes, with pictures of the kids' favourite superhero or cartoon character, have flooded the market, the prices of which are high, though, as compared to the previous years. The retail outlets of Babyshop, Carrefour, Splash and Magrudy's and the big shopping malls like Dubai City Centre and LuLu Centre are just a few among the many places that have the 'back-to-school' offers that would be the dream of any school-going child.

Showroom are brimming with the ‘Back to school’ products. — Photos by Mukesh KamalKhaleej Times spoke with parents with school-going children to elicit their reactions to the promotions this year.

Jagjeevan Jothsingh and Varsha Rani, Indian parents of two boys and residing in Sharjah, say their sons are always arguing with them over the 'must-have' stationery for the coming academic term. 'The demands never end. The marketing techniques employed by the retail stores are not helpful either. They know parents can't say no to the kids today,' said Jagjeevan.

Adel Ibrahim, a Dubai resident who has three school-going children, is already bogged down by the prices in the market. 'The promotions are there, but they lack lustre this year. It's not the promotions that are attracting the families to the various outlets selling school items, but the compulsions of sending the children to the new academic year.' For some other parents, expensive brands like Disney do not attract them anymore as the cost of living and the prices of the majority of the commodities have gone up. They said they are looking at cheaper options to suit their budget.

Despite all these reservations, the outlets are going all-out to woo children and their parents. Rahul Saxena, marketing manager of Babyshop, said, 'We have arguably the biggest and the widest collection of 'back-to-school' items in the region. And we design our products based on every child's fantasy.

'This time, we have incorporated the 'League of Young Heroes'. Capt. Jack Sparrow, Batman and Ben 10 have been designed for the boys, and characters like Barbie and Hannah Montana, among others, for the girls. We also have stationery goods with pictures of Freej, which is a craze among national children. Our main target is the children from six to 15 years.

'We have been an active part of the 'back-to-school' season for many years now. We do not disclose the details of the change in the sales patterns over the years, but we are expecting good sales this year as our promotion does every year.'

Pranav Desai, store manager of Babyshop at Sharjah City Centre, said, 'The turnout for the 'back-to-school' offers has always been very good. Since the offer has been going on only for the last one week, we are expecting a bigger turnout by the end of August when most families return from the summer vacation.'

Carrefour had its school goods festival from August 3 to August 13. Ammar Al Diab, a Dubai resident who has a son studying in Grade 3, said, 'I buy most of the stationery for my son from Carrefour. It is the preferred shopping outlet for us mainly because of its affordable prices and good quality products.'

Splash Fashions has come up with a spunky, 'back-to-school' line of clothing for the first time. Anuradha Farrel, marketing manager for Splash, said, 'This is the first time we have introduced the back-to-school line of clothing and we have cut down both the sizes and prices. Our target is children in their early teens. Our clothing line ranges from slim, tight-fit shirts and trousers, sweaters and jerkins. The slim ties from Zinc are in big demand, along with T-shirts and bags. The response we have received is tremendous and we will definitely continue the back-to-school line in the coming years too.'

Magrudy's bookshop also has something very interesting lined up for the season. Other than the usual sale of school bags, textbooks and other stationery items, Magrudy's now has tailor-made school uniforms and shoes. 'We stitch name tags on to the children's uniform, and we are one of the only very few stores in the region that make shoes according to the specific measurement of the child's feet. The response to this service has been fantastic; kids love having their names stitched onto their shirts. We are expecting a 10-20 per cent higher turnout by the end of the season as compared to last year,' said Helena Garangana, store manager for the Magrudy's branch on Jumeirah Beach Road.

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