Start of school costs young families dear

Parents of first-formers are bracing themselves to spend hundreds of Euros in the coming weeks, a poll has shown.

Public opinion agency Integral announced today (Weds) people whose kids started school next month were expecting to fork out 400 Euros on various goods such as writing utensils and schoolbags. The agency pointed out that a significant amount was spent on indirect costs such as car fuel to go to the shops. Parents and their six-year-old kids spend three hours in stores on average when purchasing all they need for school, according to Integral.

Labour Chamber (AK) expert Manuela Delapina told the Salzburger Nachrichten her organisation appealed to parents to compare prices. The Viennese branch of non-government organisation (NGO) Caritas said lone parents of first-graders and families with many children should check its Carla shops for affordable second-hand school accessories. There will be around 82,000 first-formers in Austria this autumn.

Young families looking for school utensils could give the struggling retail sector a boost. The domestic retail trade’s turnover dropped by 2.3 per cent from May 2010 to the same month of this year. Only three other European Union (EU) members did worse, according to research group KMU Forschung Austria.

Austria’s stationary shops raked in 1.5 per cent less between January and June than in the first five months of 2010. The Austrian retail sector’s overall performance shrank by only 0.1 per cent at the same time.

Integral said today parents of first-graders in capital Vienna spent around 35 per cent more than their counterparts in western Austria. Experts are at odds whether stronger interest in high-quality products or differences in prices were the main reason.

Meanwhile, new figures show that life keeps getting more expensive in Austria. The domestic inflation – which reveals price developments of all kinds of services and products on offer in the country – was 3.3 per cent for the third month in a row in June compared to the same month in 2010.

AK emphasised that some of the most popular supermarket products of daily life cost between 20 per cent and 35 per cent more at the moment than last summer. The organisation announced customers opting for the same 41 products in eight shops in Vienna had to pay 51.69 Euros in its most recent check, up from only 44.97 Euros in June 2010. Especially flour (plus 69 per cent) and butter (plus 32 per cent) became more expensive, according to AK.

Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) expert Helmut Hofer recently said Austrians “will have to get used to rising prices.” Hofer said a continuation of raw material price hikes was likely to lead to further consumer price increases.