Big demand for second-hand school uniforms
'We have all kinds of people coming in here to buy school uniforms, from the wealthy to the poor,' said Mary Wickham, a volunteer at Vincent's charity shop in Selskar, Wexford which is run by the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Vincents is still doing a brisk trade in second-hand uniforms, mostly for second level school-goers, despite a growing trend towards parents buying and selling items online through websites and Facebook pages such as the Wexford Mammies.
'We put the uniforms out about 10 days ago because people kept coming in and asking for them. We brought them down from the depot. There is a big demand and there is no stigma at all about buying second hand anymore,' said Mary.
'Parents are under a lot of pressure and anything that can help to reduce costs is very welcome,' she said.
Vincents has Loreto jumpers, skirts and trousers priced at €4 each while Loreto coats are €10. CBS and St. Peter's trousers for boys are also €4.
'People start bringing them in to us when school finishes for the summer,' said Siobhan, another Vincent's volunteer. 'The customers come from a wide cross section, basically anyone who is looking for a bargain.'
'We mostly concentrate on secondary schools because you can get primary school uniforms in Aldi now for a fiver and even a charity shop can't compete with that,' she added.
Other charity shops in Wexford are short on supplies of uniforms this year. 'No-one is handing them in. People are holding onto them and passing them on. We would always have had a few but not this year' said Soraya Connolly in Barnardos.
'There are loads of people asking for the Loreto jackets, in particular, because they are quite expensive to buy new. We haven't even got one this year so far. We would welcome donations of school uniforms.'
However, Barnardos has a large selection of grad dresses, many of them new, for prices up to €50.
A volunteer in the Oxfam shop opposite Shaws which had no uniforms at all last week, offered an explanation for the scarcity of pre-worn uniforms.
'People are selling them online on sites like the Wexford Mammies instead of donating them to charity shops,' she said.