Cost of going back to school rockets so children have up to date kit

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Parents in the UK spend almost £1.2 billion sending their children back to school, according to new figures.

Back-to-school spending is now the third biggest retail spending event after Christmas and Black Friday.

Rising costs of clothes, sports gear, stationery and computers mean an increasing number of families are struggling to cope.

Market research group Mintel said that in 2018, parents spent a combined £1.16 billion in kitting out their children.

That is an astonishing 36% rise compared to the £855 million spent in 2017.

Parents said they felt under pressure to buy branded goods for their children while many schools insist on specific items that have logos on them, meaning a cheaper alternative might not be available.

Senior retail analyst, Samantha Dover, said: ‘The value of back-to-school spending has shot up in the last year due to more parents buying non-clothing items, as well as an increase in the average amount being spent on school uniforms and shoes.

‘Pressure continues to mount on parents to keep up with the latest trends.’

Parents said they spent an average of £134 on shoes and a uniform last year and £74 for sportswear.

The rise behind the increase in back to school spending has been attributed to the number of parents buying computers for their offspring.

Last year 11% of parents bought technology for their children, spending an average of £220.

Ms Dover continued: ‘There has always been an appetite for branded products when buying things like trainers, bags and coats, which aren’t part of the traditional uniform.

‘However, this pressure is moving into new categories like computing equipment and stationery as parents are keen to ensure their children are keeping up with their peers.’

Over half (53%) of parents say they find the back-to-school shopping period stressful.

The Education Act 1996 gives local authorities the power to issue grants to parents who may be struggling to pay for uniforms.

Grants differ depending on the criteria set by each local authority but they are available to people on a range of benefits and can be worth up to £150 each.

Often, children that qualify for free school meals can also get help with their uniforms.

To check if there is any financial help available, enter your postcode on this government website.

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