PARENTS are spending more than pound;1 billion a year on children's sports kit - far in excess of their expenditure on school uniforms, computer gear or books.
And half of parents in the UK believe that kitting their children out for the school playing field costs far too much, although one in three admits to having wasted money in the past on unnecessary equipment.
Northerners are the biggest spenders on sports gear, according to a survey of nearly 500 parents carried out by sportscore.co.uk, The TES's sister online youth sports magazine.
They are spending pound;11.32 a month on kit, compared to only pound;6.27 on books. Southerners spent the least on sports gear (pound;8.97), but the most on books (pound;7.67).
Overall, the estimated annual spending by parents on sports kit was pound;1.1 billion, compared to pound;1bn on uniforms, pound;770 million on computer equipment,and pound;700m on books.
However, sporty girls are losing out, receiving only 75 per cent of the average pound;140 of kit bought for boys. Instead, parents spend an average 15 per cent more on books for their daughters, but nearly a third admit to concerns that girls are not doing enough sport.
Overall, a quarter of parents wanted their children to participate in more sport at school.
Janette Wolf, the editor of sportscore.co.uk, said: "Parents have confirmed to us that they love their children playing sports at school, but they do not have bottomless pockets when it comes to paying for kit."
For more information on this and related stories, log on to www.sportscore.co.uk, the online youth sports magazine and school sports results service provided by TSL Education Ltd.The website also runs a second-hand sports kit exchange service.