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Catch up with the latest press releases from LV=

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Kids come first as parents increase 'Back to School' spending to ?709 million

Press release: 26/08/2010

  • Parents will spend an average of £122 to kit their kids out for the new school year
  • Nearly half (46%) of parents expect to spend a greater amount this year on ‘back to school’ items than last year
  • Although over a quarter (27%) of parents say they plan to cut back on the amount of extra curricular activities they currently pay for

As parents prepare to kit their children out for the start of the new school year this week, the Cost of a Child study from insurance and investment group LV=, shows that parents will spend £709 million[1] on 'back to school' basics including uniforms, stationery, sportswear and winter coats. This is equivalent to parents spending an average of £122 on their children. This rises to £139 for secondary school aged children, compared to £96 for infants. Parents living in London spend the most preparing for their kids to go back to school at £158 on average.

Despite many families continuing to feel the squeeze in the current economic climate, nearly half of parents (46%) still expect to spend a greater amount this year on 'back to school' items than last year. When asked to consider the financial pressures of kitting their kids out for school, one in two (48%) said they are feeling the strain of having to spend ‘excessive amounts’ on these costs, rising to 64% among parents in the North East.

Back to school spending breakdown

In terms of new purchases for their children going back to school, the table below shows the most popular items that parents will buy this year and the average cost[2].


Percentage of parents planning to purchase

Typical cost per item**


School uniform








Sports kit




Haircut for child




School bag




Winter coat




Lunch box




School books



Budget Britain

Over half of parents (54%) are considering using low cost suppliers for back to school items, such as supermarkets to buy basics like uniform and stationery, and one in four (23%) are considering giving their kids second hand items, including hand-me-downs and goods from charity shops or eBay. This rises to 70% and 41% respectively for families in the South East.

In addition, almost one in five (18%) say that instead of travelling by car, their children may travel to school by foot or public transport to save money, and 16% are considering school dinners for their children if they work out cheaper than a packed lunch. The survey also found that over a quarter of parents (27%) who pay for extra-curricular activities for their children plan to cut back this year.

Mark Jones, LV= head of protection, said: "It is surprising that many parents are responding to increased money pressure this year by spending more on back to school basics; clearly kids come first despite the downturn. And it's even more surprising that many parents are spending more despite looking at ways to be frugal and economise, by purchasing from cheaper suppliers such as their local supermarket or eBay."

Education remains the second biggest expenditure for parents

LV='s annual Cost of a Child study, released earlier this year, showed that on average parents are now likely to have to shell out more than £201,000 on raising a child from birth to the age of 21[3]. This equates to £9,610 a year, £800 a month or £26 a day. Education (not including private school fees) remains the second biggest expenditure behind childcare, costing parents £52,881 over a child’s lifetime – an increase of 4% on last year.

Mark Jones continues: "£122 is a lot of money for parents to spend kitting kids out to go back to school, and that's just one small part of the expense of raising a family. So it is important that parents try and to look beyond the short term and ensure they have suitable budgets and long term financial plans in place. Whilst it may seem that cancelling insurance policies or protection plans is a good way of stretching the family budget, it's really important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

"Ensuring your family’s financial security against unexpected job loss, accident, or illness is more important than ever in the current climate. Protection doesn’t have to be expensive and in many cases, it could turn out to be one of the best investments you’ll ever make."

[1] Research carried out online from 6-10 of August 2010 by Opinium Research on behalf of LV=. Total sample size was 2,013 adults over the age of 18 years, with 404 of those respondents with children aged between 5 and 16.
709m being spent on children going back to schools is calculated by taking into account the number of people sharing the responsibility of purchasing the items.
1.51m parents will spend £103 themselves on back to school costs (single parents) = £155.83m
7.69m parents will spend £128 with their partner on back to school costs = £986.81m / 2 (per parent) = £493.41m
0.66m parents will spend £90 from other sources = £59.54m
Total = £709m

[2] Average costs sourced from pricings at Marks and Spencer, Supercuts, Amazon, and Timpsons

[3] Calculations by the Centre for Economics and Business Research for LV=, January 2010

[4] Research carried out online from 26 January – 1 February 2010 by Opinium research on behalf of LV=. Total sample size was 3,953 adults over the age of 18 years.


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