Originally created 08/05/99

Uniform sales speeding up



School uniforms -- mandatory for most public elementary and middle school pupils in Richmond County -- are selling at a brisk rate, local retailers say.

Sales are so brisk, some store managers add, that the prescribed school apparel may be hard to find at some stores within the next couple of weeks.

"Sales are way up," Target assistant manager Eric Bowman said.

He expects the store to sell out of uniforms before school starts.

He is predicting that some stores may have uniform shortages. The local Target plans to get an additional shipment of uniforms from a Target store in Columbia that is relocating.

Uniform sales have been a bonus for retailers during the back-to-school season -- retailers' second-busiest time of the year after Christmas -- because while shoppers are picking up the uniforms they also often buy other items.

In addition to uniforms, clear-plastic book bags have been big sellers, Mr. Bowman said. Target recently sold out of them. It had ordered about 100.

School uniform sales at J.C. Penney also have been doing "very well," store manager Jeff Gauker said. It is not unusual for parents to spend more than $100 buying half-a-dozen or so uniforms at one time, he added.

"Stores could be in danger of running out," he said.

Schools nationwide are going to uniforms, and there seems to be an especially high demand for them, he said. This year, J.C. Penney stocked up on uniform inventory. For example, the store ordered 4,000 of the most popular pullover shirt instead of 600 -- last year's order.

Not all stores, however, are expecting uniforms to sell out.

Sears expects to have an ample inventory, manager Larry McCall said. It has plenty of clear-plastic book bags on hand, too.

Ruben's Department Store, which has specialized in hard-to-find sizes and school uniforms for years, is expecting a great back-to-school season. It recently expanded its uniform section. The store offers free alterations, free layaway and a variety of sizes.

"There won't be any shortage here," store owner Jeff Gorelick said.

Frank Witsil can be reached at (706) 823-3352.