URN.Fausta Tukamuhebwa, a metallic suitcase dealer in Kisenyi, said that they are currently stocking items in huge numbers since many parents will certainly buy new items for their children.
After nearly two years of almost no business due to school closures, suppliers of various items for school children are preparing to make a kill come January next year. According to the new academic calendar issued by the Education and Sports Ministry, schools are scheduled to fully reopen on January 10, 2022, which is just two weeks away.
This has triggered back-to-school shopping alongside Christmas shopping. From booksellers, tailors to shoe vendors and metallic suitcase makers, everyone is either restocking or re-arranging their items ahead of the expected business boom when schools reopen. Our reporters visited Kisenyi observed several traders stocking school items compared to Christmas items.
Many stalls had stocked metallic suitcases in different sizes, unlike the past year where the sellers majorly had kitchenware. Fausta Tukamuhebwa, a metallic suitcase dealer in Kisenyi, said that they are currently stocking items in huge numbers since many parents will certainly buy new items for their children. Tukamuhebwa however noted that the sales are still lower than expected with many parents showing up to check out the prices.
Pene Zubairi, another dealer of scholastic materials, says that many parents are visiting their stalls, which points to increased demand. He, however, says that the parents are scared of prices while others prefer to wait for the last-minute shopping.
Several dealers of the metallic suitcases told our reporters that they have increased the prices of the suitcases by Shillings 5000 Uganda from the price before lockdown. The suitcases now cost between Shillings 28,000 to Shillings 85,000 depending on the size and material used for production.
Agnes Nakate, a vendor of suitcases from Kisenyi compared the sales flow at the moment and wondered whether the business would ever get back to normal.
In Kiyembe, garment tailors are also getting busier with more orders coming in from several schools and parents. Iryn Kyolaba, a tailor in Kiyembe, says that when the government announced the reopening dates some of her usual customers called and made a few orders as they still have fears that the government might decide to close the schools due to the omicron variant threat.
Kyolaba indicates that although the situation is better compared to a few months back, it is not comparable to the years before the pandemic.
She reveals that before the lockdown, they couldn’t accomplish the orders they wouldn’t get around this time.
Susan Kalanzi, another garment tailor said that the new COVID-19 variant is still a threat to their business. According to Kalanzi, their customers including schools and parents are still skeptical about school reopening fearing that omicron might lead to another closure.
The parents’ perception is based on the previous experience where the government closed schools when learners had only studied for two weeks. The lower learners were also set to return to schools when the government instituted a second lockdown.
Dealers of scholastic materials such as textbooks, pens, and reams of papers among others have also increased their stock. Just like another back-to-school period, vendors are also displaying these seasonal products on the streets.
Ismail Katongole, a bookseller in Kikuubo downtown Kampala, says that the number of customers is still lower than expected. However, he has high hopes that in two weeks their sales will certainly shoot up.
Mustafa Kimbowa explains that as a parent he is not willing to spend his hard-earned money on schools as he is still skeptical about the reopening due to the omicron variant. He also says that he will not buy school requirements like uniforms at the moment given the rate at which the children are growing.