Parents spend £1.2bn sending kids back to school

The back-to-school market has increased by 36 per cent in one year, according to survey by market research company

Tes Reporter

The amount of money that parents spent on sending their children back to school increased by 36 per cent in one year, research shows

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 – an increase of 36 per cent on the previous year when it was worth £855 million, according to market research company Mintel.

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

In a survey, parents said they spent an average of £134 on school uniforms and shoes in 2018, a 6 per cent increase from the average spend 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.

Parents face rising back-to-school costs

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.

This increase was partly the result of more parents buying tech for the new school year. In 2017, 8 per cent bought computing equipment, rising to 11 per cent 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.

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

Nearly half (49 per cent) said the pressure to buy fashionable back-to-school items had increased.

But a third (33 per cent) of parents said they had bought or would buy a second-hand school uniform, saving money and helping the environment.

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

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

Two-thirds (65 per cent) of parents with children aged 4 to 17 believed there were now better options for some of the lower-cost back-to-school products than there were previously.

Despite this improvement, over half (53 per cent) of parents still found 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

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