Stores are stocking up and mothers are back picking up water bottles, lunch boxes, school bags and stationery from the shelves.
There is hope for traders as schools reopen and they see an uptick in demand for merchandise that no one spared a glance for in the last year-and-a-half.
In most homes, the tiffin box, water bottle and school bag are not in a condition to be used. Returning to campus means being back with new things.
In the last couple of weeks, store owners of retail chains or single shops have been laying out school items or placing orders for more.
At Starmark, the demand for school items has gone up by 15 per cent in November as compared to October.
“There is an uptick in demand for school bags, water bottles, lunch boxes and we should see a normalisation in the sale of these items in the months to come,” said Gautam Jatia, CEO, Starmark.
“The demand has gone up for art and craft material, school stationery that students require for project work or activities in school,” said Jatia.
A mother of a school-going girl was looking at the school bags laid out at a store in a mall.
The salesman of the exclusive bag shop said, “Ma’am, school is reopening. Now your daughter will need a bag.”
A retail store owner in Kalikapur on the southern fringes of Kolkata said that he has brought more tiffin boxes and water bottles now.
“Since the lockdown, no one asked for tiffin boxes and water bottles, things that always used to be in high demand. But in the last few days, demand is picking up and I have also got some new varieties,” said Khokon Chandra, who has a shop in Kalikapur.
Shop owners said that customers want these items not just for their children but also to give others as birthday presents or return gifts.
All of that demand had dried up in the last 20 months because schools were closed as a precaution against Covid.
The offline exams for boards can also impact the market in a positive way, feel those in the business.
“There is an increase in demand for stationery and since exams are scheduled, we expect the market to grow because traditionally, the peak season for us is November to February,” said an official of a pen manufacturing and distributing company.
But while there is an increase in demand, they are waiting to see how things pan out in the months to come.
Parents are still wary of sending their kids to school because of the risk of infection since children are not vaccinated. This has made store owners adopt a wait-and-watch policy.
“People are still not sure and once school starts, it will be clearer,” said Jatia.