Retailers have cut margins on school wear, offered cash back and extended their ranges to score in the lucrative back-to-school merchandise market. And while hard-pressed consumers have been offered relief on generic school clothing, schools that in the past few years have been in the crosshairs of the Competition Commission over uniforms this week were given a reprieve in terms of an agreement that will avoid litigation. With the schools starting earlier this year than in previous years, retailers have gone all out to boost sales in a month that is traditionally quiet. However, slow economic growth and high unemployment mean parents under pressure are seeking affordable deals as their children head back to school. Casparus Treurnicht, a portfolio manager at Gryphon Asset Management, said muted employment growth means that cash-strapped middle-class shoppers will add pressure on sales. "But retailers must sell and the one with the best deal for a depressed consumer will win," Treurn...

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