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Parents spend nearly £1.2bn in total sending children back to school

cost of going Back to school

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Published on 14/08/2019

Over half of parents find the back-to-school shopping period stressful, Mintel said.

Parents across the UK collectively spend nearly £1.2 billion sending their children back to school, it has been estimated.

The back-to-school market was worth £1.16 billion in 2018, Mintel estimates.

This is an increase of 36% on the previous year when it was worth £855 million.

Mintel said back-to-school spending is the third biggest retail spending event after Christmas and Black Friday.

Parents said they spent an average of £134 on school uniforms and shoes in 2018, a 6% increase compared with an average of £127 in 2017.

Collectively, they spent an estimated total of £510 million on school uniforms and shoes in 2018, up from £395 million in 2017.

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Computing equipment is also driving the increase in back-to-school spending.

Parents spent an estimated £130 million on such products in 2018, compared with £80 million the previous year.

The increase is the result of more parents buying tech for the new school year.

In 2017, 8% bought computing equipment, rising to 11% in 2018.

Meanwhile, £100 million was spent on stationery including notebooks, pens and pencil cases in 2018, compared with £65 million in the previous year.

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Over two-fifths (42%) of parents said they feel pressure to buy their children branded back-to-school products, the survey of nearly 600 parents found.

Nearly half (49%) say the pressure to buy fashionable back-to-school items has increased.

But a third (33%) of parents say they have bought or would buy a second-hand school uniform, saving money and helping the environment.

Nearly half (45%) of parents bought back-to-school items from a supermarket in 2018.

While most (87%) bought items in-store, 42% also shopped online.

Two-thirds (65%) of parents with children aged four to 17 believe there are now better options for some of the lower-cost back-to-school products than there were previously.

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Despite this improvement, over half (53%) of parents still find the back-to-school shopping period stressful.

Samantha Dover, Mintel senior retail analyst, said: “The value of back-to-school spending has shot up in the last year due to more parents buying non-clothing items, as well as an increase in the average amount being spent on school uniforms and shoes.

“Pressure continues to mount on parents to keep up with the latest trends.

“There has always been an appetite for branded products when buying things like trainers, bags and coats, which often aren’t part of the traditional uniform. “However, this pressure is moving into new categories like computing equipment and stationery as parents are keen to ensure their children are keeping up with their peers.

“Price does, however, remain a driving factor behind a lot of back-to-school purchasing.

“Competition in the school uniform market has particularly intensified in recent years with discounters continuing to undercut clothing specialists and supermarkets.

“However, strict school policies, as well as an increased interest in sustainability with most parents willing to spend more on clothes that will last longer, means that average spend on school uniforms continues to rise.”

Here are the average amounts parents spend on back-to-school items, according to Mintel:

Computing equipment – £220
School uniform and shoes – £134
Sportswear – £74

How much do you spend?

Share your tips on cutting the cost of going back to school!

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