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Branded fashion helps drive Brits’ back-to-school spend up to £1.2 billion

Tom Bottomley
14 August 2019

Sending kids back to school is proving to be an increasingly costly affair for Britain’s parents, as new research from Mintel estimates the back-to-school market was worth almost £1.2 billion in 2018.

This is an increase of 36% on the previous year when it was worth £855 million. This makes back-to-school spending the third biggest retail spending event (excluding food/drink), after Christmas and Black Friday.

Parents spent an average of £134 on school uniforms and shoes in 2018. Adding to the burden, over two-fifths (42%) of parents said they feel pressure to buy their children branded back-to-school products and nearly half (49%) say there is more pressure now than previously to buy fashionable back-to-school items.

Mintel Senior Retail Analyst, Samantha Dover, said: “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.

“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.”

Despite this, price does remain a driving factor behind a lot of back-to-school purchasing. Competition in the school uniform market in has particularly intensified in recent years with discounters continuing to undercut clothing specialists and supermarkets.

However, saving their pennies and doing their bit for the environment, a third (33%) of parents say they have bought or would buy second-hand school uniform. 

As well as an increase in the average amount being spent on school uniforms and shoes, the value of back-to-school spending has shot up in the last year due to more parents buying non-clothing items.

The biggest increase in back-to-school spending was on computer equipment, with £130 million spent on these products in 2018, compared to £80 million in 2017.

The Mintel research was carried out among 599 internet users aged 16+ who are parents of children aged 4-17 in September 2018.

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