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University students plan £252m fashion spend ahead of new year

Tom Bottomley
02 September 2022

Returning university students and freshers are set to spend a total of £3.26 billion ahead of starting the new academic year this month, with a £252 million planned spend on fashion.

ASOS, Primark, Zara, Nike and New Look are the most popular clothing retailers for students, according to a new ‘Back to Campus’ report from Student Affinity Network, UNiDAYS, which surveyed almost 3,000 Gen Z students across the UK in April 2022.

Half (50%) of students are looking to purchase cosmetics and beauty items, totalling a potential £136m.
On average, each student will spend approximately £1,027 ahead of the new year, and overall spending is forecast to be 19% higher than in 2021 as living costs continue to rise.

Household goods (65%) and fashion/school supplies (64%) are among the most needed items for Gen Z students, and spend among freshers will be 18% higher than returning students, with those going into their first year of university set to spend £1,215 on average.

The largest number of students (65%) plan to spend money on grocery and household goods. However, total planned spend on grocery and household goods is just over a quarter (£281million) of the whopping £1.04billion forecast to be spent by 38% of students on computers and hardware.

With a further £948million due to be spent on electronic gadgets, Gen Z are “turning en masse to tech” to ensure they’re ready for their return to university.

Despite the rising costs, subscription services remain popular among students, with 37% choosing products that fit this description. Among the most popular subscription services Gen Z opt for are gym/health (65%), music (62%) and home entertainment (53%).

When it comes to factors that most significantly influence student purchasing choices, price and quality are the top factors across all categories. However, it’s clear that students also have a keen eye for a bargain, with discounts and promotions being a key influence on their purchase decisions.

Alex Gallagher, Chief Strategy Officer at UNiDAYS, said: “Amidst the cost-of-living crisis, Gen Z students are facing significantly increased costs to prepare for the year of study ahead. With shopping habits shifting in light of rising prices, brands must seize the opportunity to drive affinity with Gen Z. To do this it’s crucial that brands adjust their offering – adopting a strong pricing strategy which will help them to better resonate with the Gen Z audience’s priorities and values during the current economic climate.”

UNiDAYS is the world’s leading Student Affinity Network, with a verified global audience of over 20 million student members across 115 countries.


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