Parents struggling to cover the cost of school proms

The tradition of a high school prom is largely seen as an American phenomenon but it seems the event has set its roots in the UK as well.


The tradition of a high school prom is largely seen as an American phenomenon but it seems the event has set its roots in the UK as well.

According to a new report from the price of the school leavers' ball has been skyrocketing in recent years and now stands at an average of £154, including the cost of dresses, suits, limousines, hair cuts and even fake tans.

The peak prom season runs from mid-June to mid-July and six in ten (59 per cent) of 16 to 19 year olds are about to embark on one.

While some parents really splash out on the event, spending hundreds of pounds on luxuries such as designer dresses and horse drawn carriages for the biggest party of their children's school life, many are struggling to find the money to pay for the basic necessities.

Nearly a third of parents (30 per cent) said the mounting costs of sending their children to the high school prom were yet another drain on their already stretched finances.

Unsurprisingly, those with daughters have their pockets hit the hardest as typically dresses cost more than the standard suit boys need. Parents of potential prom queens spend an average of £176.64 on their daughters big night, although more than a third (35 per cent) said they spend over £200 and five per cent admitted they will spend, or are about to spend in excess of £500.

Those with sons spend almost a third less than parents of girls. They spend an average of £131.56 on suits and flashy cars, while 18 per cent estimated spending over £200 and two per cent said they will spend over £500.

Of course, spare a thought for those parents who have twins heading out on a prom night, especially if they are not going in the same car.

While almost a third of parents (32 per cent) said they were happy their children had a prom night, nearly a quarter of the parents (24 per cent) said they found it hard to refuse to spend on the prom night even though they couldn't really afford it.

Several parents are putting themselves into credit card debt thanks to covering the costs of their children's prom night. It's important events such as this are planned for in advance as many parents underestimate the cost and find themselves in trouble.

Some 13 per cent said they spent too much on prom night and 11 per cent would like to see the event banned.

Claire Peate, customer insight manager at, said: "The high school prom is an American tradition which has really taken off in the UK in the last few years. Peer pressure can lead to teenagers wanting to spend hundreds of pounds on looking their best and arriving in style, but nearly a third of their parents say the prom is a strain on already stretched family finances."

She advised parents to budget accordingly for the event and children should be encouraged to cover some of the costs themselves. Shopping around is also essential in lowering the cost of items such as dresses, suits and limousines.

By Amy White

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