Wed, Aug 30, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Retailers offer discounts for back-to-school season

BARGAINS GALORE Students may not be looking forward to getting back to their studies, but they can console themselves by picking up a few great deals

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the approach of a new academic semester, retailers are offering discounts to cash in on the back-to-school shopping spree.

More than 1,000 products, ranging from 3C (computer, communication, consumer electronics) goods, books, schoolbags, furniture and clothing to bicycles will be on sale for the next month to facilitate one-stop shopping for students, according to hypermarket operators.

The growing popularity of pricey, quality products and stationery featuring patented cartoon characters characterizes this year's back-to-school season, they added.

"Because the number of children in each family is decreasing, parents are becoming much more generous about buying high quality school supplies for children," said Dream Lin (林夢紹), public relations manager of Carrefour Taiwan, the nation's largest hypermarket chain.

Citing schoolbags as an example, Lin said that while those priced between NT$300 (US$9.1) and NT$400 flew off the shelves in the past, consumers on average had doubled their budget on this item.

The most expensive schoolbag, which is ergonomically designed to protect the spine and super-light thanks to nano technology manufacturing techniques, costs NT$1,780, and has contributed to good sales, she said.

Revenues on schoolbags during the back-to-school season account for over half of annual sales, and those for books and stationery could be as much as 20 times higher than in other periods, Lin added.

Far Eastern Geant (愛買吉安) said that stationery featuring cartoon characters, such as Japanese Futari wa Pretty Cure and Disney characters, were popular among school kids.

Henry Yin (尹皓), a public relations official, predicted that sales of such stationery items in Far Eastern Geant's 14 stores nationwide could double compared with last year.

Yin said laptops, electronic dictionaries, USB mass storage devices and liquid-crystal-display (LCD) TVs were popular with high school and university students.

RT-Mart (大潤發), meanwhile, is cutting retail prices on plastic slipcases from NT$49 to NT$19 for a set of eight to 10, public relations official Margery Ho (何默真) said.

"We hope to record strong year-on-year growth during this four-week period. Last year, there was a strong back-to school buying spree but, perhaps due to a lack of typhoons this summer, consumption seems to have slowed down a bit," she said.

According to the latest survey released by MasterCard Worldwide last Wednesday, sales figures for the nation's retail businesses -- excluding hospitality, catering and auto sales -- during the second half of the year are expected to edge up only 1.6 percent from the same period last year to NT$1.59 trillion.

Purchasing power has been slightly affected by consumer bad loans and political turmoil, said a retailer who preferred not to be named.

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