Published by
Reuters

By Lisa Baertlein and Joyce Philippe LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) – At Stationery and Toy World, a family-owned shop in New York’s Upper West Side, manager Gary Rowe is having difficulty getting all the pens and folders he ordered for the important back-to-school season.

His usual vendors have low stocks of Pilot’s erasable FriXion pens and Paper Mate Flair marker pens – and prices are high on stationery and other in-demand school supplies.

And Rowe is not alone, retailers are navigating a storm of challenges – higher production costs, cargo delays from China and other Asian countries, and sky-high shipping rates – as they gear up for the industry’s second-biggest selling season.

“I’m hoping that when everything catches up, we get more stock,” Rowe said at his store packed wall-to-wall with a colorful array of pens and markers. “Business has been really slow.”

After a year of keeping their kids at home, parents are eager for classes to start again.

Stimulus checks and advance child tax credits from U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration are expected to boost sales of back-to-school merchandise, especially shoes and clothing, following last year’s outlays on laptops, headphones and other equipment for remote learning. The National Retail Federation expects total back-to-school spending to rise 6.4% to $108.1 billion this year. Average spending for all age groups is forecast to be $2,049, up 10.8%. …Read More

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