Higher consumer prices prompt cutback in school spending

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Concerns over rising oil and food prices are taking their toll on back-to-school spending.

Shop owners at the Naklua Market say sales of new uniforms and supplies such as notebooks and pens are down from a year ago. Vendors attribute the drop to cutbacks prompted by consumer prices, which hit their highest mark in 21 months during April.

Manoch Wongthaiwan, owner of the Taweechai shop, said school-supplies sales usually begin the last week of April and peak in early May. “This year it’s obvious sales have declined,” he said.

Aw mom, do I have to? A mother helps her young student try on a new school shirt.  Clothes prices are up this year, affecting families with schoolchildren most.Aw mom, do I have to? A mother helps her young student try on a new school shirt.  Clothes prices are up this year, affecting families with schoolchildren most.

Manoch said parents have been put off by prices, with shirts and skirts rising about 10 baht for regular sizes and even more for extra large or small outfits.

Mother Fongnuan Wongthet said she has long shopped at Taweechai, but noticed the higher prices this year.

“However,” she said, “I don’t really have a choice. I have to buy what’s necessary. I just have to be more careful on what I spend on.”

The Consumer Price Index has been pushed upward steadily by rising oil prices, but overall Thailand’s economy is rebounding from last year’s floods. Gross domestic product during the first quarter is expected to jump 11 percentage points from the end of 2011 as more flood affected factories go back on line, overall inflation increased last month by the lowest amount in more than two years, given partly to the fact that prices had risen so drastically last year following the floods and haven’t settled back down to pre-flood levels, and consumer confidence increased in April for the fifth straight month.