Scots spend most on back-to-school

PARENTS in Scotland spend the most in the UK on sending their children back to school, a new survey shows today.

A total of £89 is shelled out per child north of the Border, compared with the £77 average, with more than half of parents overall feeling under pressure to spend more than last year.

Total back-to-school spending was up by nearly 4 per cent at £736 million.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, the report also found parents were attempting to save money by buying cheaper or second-hand clothes, including hand-me-downs.

Parents spent an average of £50 on uniforms, £40 on sports kit, £10 on haircuts and £10 on stationery, which were unchanged on last year. But an average of £15 was spent on school bags, £3 more than in 2010.

The Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society, which commissioned the survey, was unable to say why parents north of the Border spent more than elsewhere, but its poll found 97 per cent of those in Scotland planned to buy school uniform compared with 85 per cent across the UK.

Stationery was also being bought by 85 per cent of parents in Scotland in comparison with 58 per cent in the UK. A total of 73 per cent were also buying school bags north of the Border (47 per cent across the UK).

Scotland also led the way in spending on haircuts – 62 per cent compared with 53 per cent in the UK, and sports kit and equipment – 61 per cent against 58 per cent.

Across the UK, more than half of parents planned to buy “budget” school uniforms and stationery. Nearly one third were considering cutting back on dance, music and sports lessons.

Supermarkets are aggressively targeting the back-to-school market, with offers such as Sainsbury’s selling a three-piece uniform for £6 for five-year-olds, Asda selling two shirts, trousers or a skirt and a jumper for £7, and Morrisons offering two items of uniform for £5. They are also selling cheap sports kit, such as gym shoes at Asda for £2.50 compared with £12 at JJB Sports. Stationery sets start at £1.50 at Morrisons, with Hello Kitty and Sonic pencil cases £3.

At the other end of the scale, parents could splash out on luxury stationer Smythson’s calfskin leather pencil cases for £110, which are featured in the “back-to-school” section of its website.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council said parents were increasingly feeling the pinch, prompting innovations such as uniform “swap-shops”.

Executive director Eileen Prior said: “The anecdotal evidence we have from parents is the cost of maintaining a child at school is indeed an ever-increasing one.

“In addition, the pressure on parents’ groups to contribute more and more money towards school materials, equipment and trips is also growing. It is a concern to us parents are being squeezed hard on every front.”

Lucy McTernan, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “Back-to-school costs are not exactly luxury spending. All we can do is urge families to shop around, plan ahead, prioritise and budget sensibly.”