QCOSTARICA – The director of the Office of Consumer Advocacy, Cynthia Zapata, emphasized the importance of parents to review last years school items to see if they are in good condition and can reuse for the upcoming school year, that begins on February 9.
“A different form of consumption should be encouraged. Try to reuse things like supplies, uniforms and backpacks that in good condition and prevent costs from skyrocketing this month. The consumer culture in Costa Rica is to buy, buy and buy and then discard,” said Zapata.
Avoiding unnecessary spending is one way for many Costa Rican to get though the “cuesta de Enero”, the January uphill financial struggle faced by many households after the holidays.
The Consumer Advocacy also recommends parents compare prices. In 2014, a study by the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio (MEIC) revealed price differences of up 600% for similar items.
Last year, the average back to school expenditure for a high school student was ¢91.000, based on a study by the MEIC between January 8 an 15 of 36 establishments in the Greater Metropolitan Area of San José, offering basic supplies and uniforms. For 2015, the expenditure is expected to be about ¢100.000 whe inflation is taken into account.
For a grade school student, the average expenditure last year was ¢68.000, while this year it would be around ¢72.500.
Reusing uniforms, backpacks and shoes, for instance, would allow families to ease the financial burden of back to school. This also means entering into a discussion with children who typically want everything new for first day back to school.
Zapata added that schools cannot force families to acquire certain brands for school supplies.
Adding to the financial burdens of families are high ticket items such as laptops and tables. The MEIC recommends that before spending on high ticket items, like computers, consumers should be clear on the repair and/or replacement warrantee offered by the retailer.
The school year in Costa Rica is from February to December.