Back to school ‘an expensive time for families’

Families up and down the country are now gearing up to send their young ones back to school, but many could be underestimating the costs involved in p…

Families up and down the country are now gearing up to send their young ones back to school, but many could be underestimating the costs involved in preparing for the new academic year.

Research published by Santander has revealed parents in 2014 will spend an average of £240 per child on purchasing necessary clothes and equipment to keep their children properly kitted out for their return to academia in just a few weeks' time.

Indeed, head of Santander Cards Ruben Justel commented: "The end of the summer holidays means the annual 'back-to-school' shopping trip for many parents. Unfortunately, kitting out children for the new school term is an expensive but unavoidable task."

Overall, this year has seen a seven per cent increase in typical back-to-school costs for families, with school uniform, new shoes, jackets and coats, gym clothes, backpacks, sports equipment, books, lunch boxes and stationery all adding up.

In total, UK families will spend £2.5 billion on these academic essentials in the run-up to the new school year, while more than half of parents (54 per cent) have stated they will be driving their children to school every day over the coming months – adding a further £220 a year onto expenses for households.

The ongoing costs of keeping kids in school throughout the academic year also adds up for many families, with a combined £526 million per week – averaging at £50 per child – paid out by parents on items like packed lunches, bus fares, school trips and other extracurricular activities.

Altogether, weekly costs are expected to rise by 14 per cent for the 2014-15 academic year for families.

Meanwhile, figures recently published by American Express showed nearly half (44 per cent) of UK parents go over budget when it comes to ensuring their young ones have the right equipment and attire for the new school year.

In total, 50 per cent of respondents to the credit providers' research said they have fears over the affordability of purchases for the new school year, while 47 per cent also said one of the main reasons they will overspend is the need to keep up with other parents and ensure their kids have the latest fashions and gadgets.

Indeed, the average cost of high-tech goods – mobile phones for example – for schoolchildren in the UK now stands at £94.59 per child. This is three times the amount typically spent on school clothing and almost ten times the sum spent on stationery for the school year.

Nicholas Stefanovitz, vice president of consumer cards UK at American Express, said:  "It's clear from our research that some parents feel the financial strain of getting the kids ready for the new school term, but they are determined to make sure that they have all the right kit."

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