Retailers predict a surge in post-Christmas spending by parents on the eve of schools reopening in parts of the country.
Government schools in Gauteng, Free State, Mpuma-langa, North West and Limpopo provinces start their school year tomorrow.
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and Western Cape schools will open next Wednesday, January 16.
Parents are going to have to dig deep into their pockets to fund school shoes, uniforms and stationery while facing rising prices of fuel and food, as well as possible interest rate hikes.
The merchandise director for Pep, Sean Cardinaal, said during the next two weeks major back-to-school buying would take place at stores around the country.
"Our big sellers include clothing and footwear, as well as stationery items, water bottles, lunch boxes and suitcases," he told Sowetan.
Pep's single best-selling item is grey long pants.
Cardinaal predicted that buying would continue into February, with some parents waiting for their child to start school before heading for the shopping mall.
"Sixty-five percent of our January sales come from back- to-school purchases," he said.
Research by the Retail Liaison Committee shows that Pep dominates more than half of the country's schoolwear market.
Some mothers said they had already started shopping last year.
"I did all the uniform shopping after Christmas, now I'm buying her stationery," said Linda Solwandle about her daughter, Sisipho, who is in grade six at St Raphael's Primary School in Athlone.
Brian Weyers, marketing director of Shoprite, said the school rush was "a last-minute story", though the bottom end of the market bought certain items as Christmas presents for their children, "such as school shoes, a backpack or colouring-in materials".
The divisional buying manager for CNA, Debi Weber, said stationery costs were grade and school-specific.
"It seems the private schools are quite brand-specific and tend to give parents lists of top-end items to buy, [though] government schools just list the item."