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One of the city's largest second-hand school uniform suppliers is calling for more donations as some uniform items become as scarce as hen's teeth.
Salvation Army King Edward St Family Store manager Jane Orbell said the store had only two boxes of uniforms, nowhere near enough to meet demand.
''... we don't often have a lot of choice, and some of the uniform isn't current.''
What was for sale usually disappeared quickly because items such as school blazers could be up to $200 cheaper than new ones, Mrs Orbell said.
Most second-hand uniforms did not go up for public sale because they were being passed on by families to younger siblings or friends.
School blazers had become hard to find as a result, she said.
Demand for second-hand school uniforms appeared to be growing, especially as people were looking to buy about the time credit card payments for Christmas spending came due, she said.
''There's a lot of financial pressure on some parents. Some schools ask you to buy both summer and winter uniforms, and it's a huge expense for families with growing children.
''It's a huge outlay, and it's a difficult time. Times are tough, financially.
''People haven't got a lot of money. The gap between those that have money, and those that are just getting by, is growing.''
Mrs Orbell said she had noticed a marked increase this year in the number of families making alternative arrangements, such as buying new uniforms and paying them off.
''Families are thinking about how they are going to pay for them well in advance, because they are so expensive.''
She called for more second-hand uniforms to help the growing number of families in need.
A spokeswoman for the Princes St branch of the Salvation Army Family Store said there were no second-hand uniforms in the store because none had been donated, and the North Dunedin branch reported it had ''a small selection'' but would like a lot more.
Arthur Barnett general manager Sue Smaill said new uniform sales figures were running in line with previous years.
The department store had had a good start and many people had been very organised, buying new uniforms as early as November or December last year, she said.
While some uniform stores around the country had reported an increase in the number of people putting uniforms on lay-by or other payment plans, this had not been apparent at the Dunedin store, she said.
''We don't do lay-bys on school uniforms, but we do give 90 days to pay and they can take the uniform straight away.
''But the number of people taking up the offer is the same as last year,'' she said.