back to school uniform

Back to school shopping is the third-largest seasonal event in the UK after Black Friday and Christmas

Supermarkets are the nation’s number one port of call when it comes to back-to-school shopping, new research from Mintel shows.

Its research found 33% of shoppers made supermarkets their choice for what was the third-largest seasonal event in the UK after Black Friday and Christmas.

Parents spent £915m on back to school in 2017, according to Mintel, which quizzed 475 internet users aged 16 and older who were parents of children aged four to 17 in September 2017.

Clothing proved top for back-to-school spending: school uniforms and shoes made up 48% of market spend last year - £436m.

Read more: Nisa launches back to school promotional campaign

Next came sportswear, which made up 18% of sales and accounted for £164m, and the “other” category - items such as computing equipment and lunchboxes - represented 16% of the overall total, worth £143m.

The average parent spent £273 on uniform, shoes, sportswear, bags and stationery in 2017, up from £218 in the previous year - an increase of 25% in just one year. Parents spent £127 on school uniforms alone in the run-up to the 2017 school year, up from £93 in 2016.

Chana Baram, Mintel research analyst, said spending on back to school had been driven by rising inflation, the increased cost of childrenswear and stationery, and an increase in the back-to-school population.

“There has also been a trend among school students to want more fashionable stationery and school accessories, which adds to costs. And parents are willingly buying more branded school items, including bags and coats, perhaps influenced by the various back-to-school advertising campaigns focused on branded goods,” she said.

Quality was the most important factor for parents, followed by stock availability and more consistent sizing.

Baram said: “There tends to be a flurry of back-to-school spending in the two to five-week period before the start of the new school year. The period a few weeks prior to the new term is therefore a prime time for retailers to focus on back-to-school promotional and marketing activity.

“Currently supermarkets are the preferred place to purchase back-to-school items, with parents attracted by the convenience of being able to buy all school items in one place. Other retailers could benefit from offering a wider variety of school-related products to help make them more appealing to busy parents.”

Lunchbox & Back to School Category Report 2018