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Parents dread new term as back to school costs spiral

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Kitting out kids for the new school term is proving a big worry for parents as back to school costs are expected to be 10% higher this year.

Parents plan to spend around £1.63bn on their children’s back to school kit for the new school term in September, according to research. This equates to around £189.29 per child, and is a 10% increase on the £1.48bn parents planned to spend in 2017.

London parents spend the most – £227.06 on average per child, followed by Northern Ireland (£208) and Wales (196.33).

Parents in Yorkshire tend to spend the least (£173.49), along with those living in the South West (£178.35).

According to the annual Nationwide credit card back to school survey, school uniform and shoes represent the biggest expenditure, with parents saying they are likely to spend an average of £36.70 on uniform and £28.35 on shoes. Jackets and coats will also set back parents by around £25.26 per child this year.

The costs may be out of parents’ control as schools often have a preferred retailer for uniforms which are more expensive than the school uniform deals available at supermarkets.

The poll of 2,000 parents with children aged between four and 16 found that 72% are worried about how much it costs to kit out their kids. This, according to Nationwide, is a 13% increase on 2017 numbers.

And the results reveal that parents are more likely to be concerned about the cost of kitting out their children ready for the new school year (45%) than they are about how much the school summer holiday will set them back (38%).

In order to manage the added costs, a quarter of parents are turning to credit cards while 36% admit to dipping into their savings. One in 10 parents said they would need to turn to their parents for financial support.

Louise Prior, head of Nationwide unsecured lending, said: “Although £190 per child may be an amount parents can find, if you have more than one child in school, it can very quickly mount up, especially added onto the costs associated with the school holidays. And unfortunately, parents are often prevented from shopping for a bargain due to being forced to purchase some school items – such as uniform – from appointed suppliers.

“As a result, squeezed family budgets are forcing more and more parents to either dip into their savings or turn to credit cards to cover the cost.”