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Back-to-school costs climbing

Chris DiCesare
Special to Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Labour Day weekend has always signified the end of the summer, back to school for the kids and for retailers, it represents the first rush of shopping after a summer of vacations - shopping which is becoming more and more expensive for parents.

NNSL photo/graphic

Michelle Leblanc-Lupton, a customer service representative at Staples, displays some new backpacks for students heading into the new school year. - Ian Vaydik/NNSL photo

According to a poll commissioned by Scotiabank, parents of school-aged children are spending an average of $324 to outfit their school-aged children this year, up $31 from last year.

The poll, conducted by Harris/Decima, revealed parents will spend an additional $403 on incidentals throughout the year, up markedly from last year's $353.

One Yellowknife parent in particular, Tina Hobbs, was actually under the average for school supplies this year for her two children, Destiny and Jordan, spending just $142 between them.

"It's a little higher than last year," said Tina Hobbs. "Destiny needed composition books for this year, which she didn't need last year."

Keeping it simple

Tina kept her shopping fir Jordan simple - mostly binders and other materials needed for study, she said.

Competition for the back-to-school dollar is fierce in the ultra-competitive retail sector, but one local retailer says their business has remained constant.

"Creative Basics' sales are holding ... we haven't seen any increase in sales nor have we seen

any decrease in sales in our back-to-school merchandise," Gary Williams, Creative Basics store manager, said.

Williams refused to reveal the average amount of purchases made by his clientele, but he did say serving Yellowknife and Northern communities has taught him a thing or two about business.

He said "if you don't have the human touch," customers won't come back.

"If you have good customer service and good clerks, people will keep coming back and we have a very loyal customer base," he said.

Creative Basics is an office supply store that has sold office furniture and supplies, stationary and rented office equipment across the North for the past 15 years.

Information released in the poll was confined to pre-school through Grade 12.

- with files from James McCarthy

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