CAC finds 100 per cent variation in prices of some literature books in stores

CAC finds 100 per cent variation in prices of some literature books in stores

Observer writer

Friday, August 28, 2020

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Jamaicans who fail to shop around could be paying twice as much for some English literature novels in the lead up to the October 5 scheduled start of the new school year.

That is one of the major findings of the 2020 Annual Textbook Survey conducted by the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC).

But the CAC underlined that the difference in price in literature book is not necessarily price gouging by the booksellers.

According to the CAC, literature books are printed by various publishing houses with varied paper quality and types of covers — hard cover or soft cover — therefore, although the title and the content of the novels are the same, those factors lead to the difference in prices observed for them.

In its 2020 survey, the CAC visited 83 book stores which included 29 stores in the Greater Kingston Metropolitan Region (GKMR) — Kingston and St Andrew, Portmore and Spanish Town — and 54 urban centres in 11 parishes.

The prices were surveyed and availability of 154 textbooks included 91 secondary, 51 primary and 12 infant levels in 19 subject areas.

Within the GKMR, the majority of price changes were less than 10 per cent while others increased between 11.7 per cent and 26 per cent. However, the average price increase in the GKMR was 4.4 per cent. This was a shade below the point-to-point inflation recorded for the July 2019 to July 2020 period by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica which was 5.7 per cent.

The CAC found that 41 per cent more titles were available in the GKMR than the rural towns.

According to the CAC, books at the infant level were the most available at 68 per cent, while 54 per cent of primary books were readily available and 34 per cent of secondary books.

The CAC is encouraging parents and guardians to utilise the options available to save money, as well as to allow persons to reduce their face-to-face contact in stores.

The commission also noted that online options will allow parents to shop early and to take advantage of the deals that may still be available as the usual overcrowding of book stores associated with last-minute back-to-school shopping should be avoided.

Parents and guardians also being urged to maintain physical distancing protocols established by the Ministry of Health aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 by searching for the stores which do direct deliver or offer curbside pick-up.

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