U.S. retailers scramble to stock shelves as kids head back to school

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LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) – At Stationery and Toy World, a family-owned shop in New York’s Upper West Side, manager Gary Rowe is having difficulty getting all the pens and folders he ordered for the important back-to-school season.

His usual vendors have low stocks of Pilot’s erasable FriXion pens and Paper Mate Flair marker pens – and prices are high on stationery and other in-demand school supplies.

And Rowe is not alone, retailers are navigating a storm of challenges – higher production costs, cargo delays from China and other Asian countries, and sky-high shipping rates – as they gear up for the industry’s second-biggest selling season.

“I’m hoping that when everything catches up, we get more stock,” Rowe said at his store packed wall-to-wall with a colorful array of pens and markers. “Business has been really slow.”

After a year of keeping their kids at home, parents are eager for classes to start again.

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