Back-to-school: Parents in UAE turn into smart shoppers to rein in budgets Filed on August 25, 2021

They are busy shopping this week as the new school year/term begins right after this weekend, on Sunday.

Parents are turning into smart shoppers in the back-to-school season availing of sales, promotions and discounts to avoid overshooting their budgets.

They are busy shopping this week as the new school year/term begins right after this weekend, on Sunday.

Guardians explained their strategies for reining in their back- to-school budgets that includes earmarking an amount to ensure there’s no overspending.

Hand-me-downs and preowned books and uniforms are not uncommon practices either.

Indian expat Shreya Ghosh said: “The prices of back-to-school items, such as school bags, shoes and other supplies, vary greatly from one store to the other, as well as online. I also don’t mind second-hand items. Children outgrow their clothes so fast. School uniforms are particularly expensive with prices ranging anywhere between Dh750 and Dh1,200 annually per child, which is to be purchased from an approved retailer specified by the schools. So, I took the school uniform from a friend, whose child has outgrown it. Many people like me buy uniforms and books from Facebook and WhatsApp community groups.”

“Additionally, my child will be going to Year 1 in an IB school starting this year and we had to buy an iPad for her which costs around Dh3,500. So, parents don’t want to get hit off guard with hundreds of dirhams in expenses. We’ve got to plan ahead and be a smart shopper,” added Ghosh.

Like Ghosh, Malaysian expat Adilatul felt it’s important to create a spending limit that people are comfortable with and covers the basics. She averred: “Going school shopping without a budget will only set us up for overspending.”

“Between now and the start of school in the UAE, we encounter enough sales and promotions. It would be unwise to pay full retail price for anything. This year my daughter is switching from IB to the British curriculum which also means shifting schools. Now, that is an additional expenditure. School uniforms, needless to say, are the most expensive and entail a major chunk of the budget where one has to pay between Dh75 and Dh450 for shirts, blouses, pants or jackets. As for other school supplies, I have been proactive in keeping a tab on all kinds of available discounts and sales trying not to miss a good deal,” underlined Adila.

Meanwhile, bags and uniforms are again trending in the UAE, with retailers across the country luring customers by organising several contests like ‘Win a Back to School Prize Pack.’

Ben Lebig, a Filipino father who has a 12-year-old daughter, said: “Over the years, there has been a spike in school supplies and accessories. My daughter is in Year 8 now. It has obviously increased from what it was when she was younger. My back-to-school budget is between Dh3,000-Dh5,000 now, depending on the year and school requirements.”

A parent of two children, Ami Rasheed, pointed out: “The school budget has increased over the years. We are getting ready to buy school accessories and uniforms. But as online learning was happening last year, the school uniforms are not really worn out and they can easily be used this year as well. Same is the case with school bags. Apart from that, masks and sanitisers are also on the shopping list. Although insignificant amounts, they appear on the purchase list. The pandemic has been a great teacher and taught us how to learn to manage money efficiently.”

Nandini Sircar

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