Updated April 2019
Back-to-school shopping can put a big dent in your household budget, especially if you have more than one child. We analysed the UK market to find the costs of your child's junior school uniform from various retailers, so you can get an idea of what to expect to pay.
In our study, we included 5 major retailers that supply our entire selection of kit and have easy-to-navigate websites for both at-home and in-store browsing and shopping—Asda, Sainsbury’s, M&S, John Lewis and Next—for a set of new clothes and shoes for boys and girls in reception (4 years old), year 3 (7 years old) and year 7 (11 years old).
Cheapest School Uniforms
Across the board, two retailers stood out for offering the most economical school uniforms: Asda and Sainsbury's. Their prices averaged around 35% less than the average cost of a school uniform, or close to 50% less than what you'd expect to pay at M&S, John Lewis or Next. The cheapest average all-in cost for our basket of new school uniform items was £87 at Asda; Next cost more than twice as much with a price of £182.
Here we've broken out the uniform costs by age and gender, so you can see the expected costs for your child at each retailer:
Sometimes, it is worthwhile buying a more expensive product. For instance, M&S offers non-iron shirts that cost more but can save time and angst when it comes to the laundry. A 2-pack of M&S non-iron, short sleeve shirts for a 7 year old costs £10—the same price as you'll pay for a 5-pack of short sleeve shirts from Asda (labelled "easy to iron"). John Lewis's cost more at £11, but you get taped seams for strength, re-enforced collars, minimal ironing and Teflon EcoElite to repel stains.
Also, while the analysis shows M&S, John Lewis and Next are more expensive, you may find other benefits to shopping at these retailers. To some extent they offer a wider array of styles (e.g., slim fit, plus fit, skinny leg, etc.) and, when we checked, tend to have ample stock in most products.
Boys and Girls
Uniforms for boys generally came in a few pounds cheaper than for girls, despite many items (e.g., shirts and PE kit) being unisex. The largest contributing factor is that skirts tend to be more expensive than shorts—on average two skirts would cost £11 vs £7.50 for shorts. You can see detailed pricing estimates for our basket of uniform items across the retailers broken out by gender and age in the following table.
|4 Yrs||7 Yrs||11 Yrs||4 Yrs||7 Yrs||11 Yrs|
Marks and Spencer
Cost of School Shoes
The most costly item on your child's back-to-school list will inevitably be a pair of shoes. The average price from these six retailers was £25 for their cheapest pair of black, leather school shoes (velcro straps for boys, mary janes for girls). Sainsbury's and Asda came in with the cheapest at £15.
This is one back-to-school item that you may choose to shop for beyond the six retailers in this study. Geox, Clarks and Start Rite are popular brands, but don't be surprised to pay £25 to £50 for these quality shoes.
Back-to-School Clothing List
Different families—even those at the same school—will buy a different number of shirts, shorts, etc. For the purposes of this study we priced the following shopping list of clothing and footwear:
Back-to-School Clothing List
- 2 Shorts/Skirts
- 2 Trousers
- 4 Short Sleeve Shirts
- 4 Long Sleeve Shirts
- 2 Jumpers
- 5 Grey Socks/Tights
- 5 White Sport Socks
- 2 PE Shorts
- 3 PE Polo Shirts
- 1 PE Sweatshirt
- 1 Black Leather School Shoes
- 1 Trainers
For children required to wear a blazer to school, parents should expect to add between £10 and £28 to their school clothing budget, if shopping at these retailers.