Parents cut down on back-to-school costs

Average family forks out a hefty £175 per child, while more than a third have to dip into savings

Schoolchildren in school uniform
(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Parents are saving their pennies in the run-up to the start of the school term, but many will still have to rely on their savings or borrow on a credit card to afford the expense.

Nationwide Current Accounts' annual survey of 2,000 parents of children aged between four and 16 found the average cost per child of the uniform and equipment for the new school year is a little below £175.

That's £12 less than last year, which the London Evening Standard says could suggest "some are feeling a squeeze on their wallets" at a time of rising inflation.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

It could also be a sign of savvy shopping during a period when supermarkets in particular are competing hard for business.

One in seven parents say they buy bargains at the end of the previous school year to keep costs down. Many use school-designated stores for specific items and cheaper supermarkets for generic items like trousers, skirts, shirts and blouses.

Many parents are still feeling the financial pinch of the back-to-school period, however, and there was little change compared to last year's survey in terms of the number using credit cards or savings in order to fund purchases.

More than a third (37 per cent) dip into their savings to fund back-to-school costs, while a quarter (25 per cent) turn to their credit cards – in both cases the figure is just one per cent up on last year.

Larry Banda, Nationwide's director of financial planning, said: "As much as your children will get too big for their shoes, you don't want your bills to outgrow your wallet.

"There are a number of ways parents can cover the costs by planning ahead as much as possible. These include snapping up bargains… or building a pot of savings."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.