The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MoEYI), executed its annual survey of textbooks between July 24 and August 2, 2017. Overall, a 6% increase in textbook average prices was observed islandwide for all texts. It should be noted that 19 (or 25%) more stores were surveyed than in 2016.
Price and availability data on 133 popular textbooks were obtained from 95 retailors islandwide: 30 bookstores in the Greater Kingston Metropolitan Area (Kingston, St. Andrew, Portmore and Spanish Town) and 65 from Urban and Rural Towns of the other parishes including St. Catherine. The books surveyed consisted of ninety (90) secondary level, thirty (30) primary level and thirteen (13) infant level textbooks covering seventeen subject areas.
Islandwide, Infant School texts increased by an average 7% ($74.02). The price changes ranged from an increase of 1% ($10.93) to an increase of 10% ($97.00). Primary School texts increased by an average 5% ($73.65). The price changes ranged from a decrease of approximately 7% ($101.59) to an increase of 12% ($153.82). As it relates to Grade 7-9 School texts, there was an average increase of approximately 10% ($244.57). The price changes witnessed ranged from a reduction of 9% ($132.93) to an increase of 70% ($1635.21). Meanwhile, CSEC/CAPE texts increased by an average of 6% ($99.71). The price changes detected ranged from a decrease of 15% ($452.33) to an increase of 82% ($652.50).
Islandwide, the availability, average and price ranges were observed for each grade grouping. The availability for Infant School texts was 81% while the average cost was $1,164.65 with the most expensive text being $1,584.00 and the least expensive being $640.00. For Primary School texts, the availability was 64%, the average cost was $1,505.67; meanwhile, the most expensive book for this grade level costed $2,800.00, while the least expensive was $1,000.00. As it relates to Grade 7-9 texts, the availability was 36%, while the average cost was $1,996.07. It was observed that the most expensive was $4,045.00, while the least expensive was $510.00. And finally, for CSEC/CAPE texts the availability was 24% and the average cost was $3,428.34. The most expensive book cost $9,250.00 while the least expensive was $880.00.
The CAC noted that consumers do have a number of options available to source textbooks. Outside of the traditional option of visiting the store and purchasing books, there were independent distributors who established relationships with Parent Teachers Associations and school administrations to supply textbooks for resale. There are also online sources through which purchases can be made.
In addition to inflation which according to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica was 4.4% Point-to-Point for the period July 2016 - July 2017, the cost of texts could have been impacted by revisions in content, changes in the materials used during production, location of the outlet and availability. It should also be noted that since the last survey in July 2016, the Jamaican dollar has undergone further depreciation against its major counterparts, losing 2% of its value when compared to the US Dollar and 1% to the British Pound.
The Commission is therefore encouraging parents and guardians to shop around to get the best price possible.
For additional details regarding specific regions, visit the Commission’s website at www.cac.gov.jm .
The Communications Unit Consumer Affairs Commission 34 Trafalgar Road, Kingston 10 Tel: 906-5425/906-8568 Mobile: 564-8942 or 564-8902 Email: email@example.com
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