How to save money on next year's school uniform
Filed under: Shopping & Deals
Although it is only the beginning of the school summer holidays, the organised among us are already shopping around for the best deals on school uniforms. And the good news for shoppers is that supermarkets are engaging in a price war.
Each year the supermarkets battle it out to see who can produce the cheapest items, and the table below shows the current state of affairs.
It is not just the supermarkets who are vying for your attention – plenty of other retailers have their own school uniform deals to draw you in. But how do they compare?
Aldi is new on the school uniform scene and is making its entrance with a bang, offering a full school uniform for only £4! What's more, there's only one price no matter what age your child is.
This offer starts on 2nd August and the low cost uniform works out as only 2p for each school day of the year. These school uniform prices are part of Aldi's 'Special Buys' and are only available between Thursday and Sunday for as long as stocks last.
Remember that it is likely that your school will make you use their specified provider for blazers and jumpers with the school logo on, and the high prices more than make up for the savings you may make on the basics.
And don't forget shoes - a decent pair from Clarks can cost up to £40, although many shops do cheaper versions. M&S sells perfectly good school shoes from £14 and supermarkets knock out school footwear from £8 for shoes and £2.50 for sports plimsolls!
What about the ethics?
And they may not be, but don't be fooled into thinking that they are doing their cash-strapped customers a favour! Very cheap items like school uniforms are known as 'loss leaders'. The big retailers are prepared to take tiny or non-existent profits as they know that if they can get customers through the door they will supplement the cheap cost of the clothes by buying lots of more expensive goods.
It is also worth considering that even if you choose to pay more for an item, it doesn't necessarily mean that the methods of manufacture are any more honourable. High end labels like Gucci and Ralph Lauren have ended up in the newspapers due to their use of sweatshops, and high street favourites like Gap, Next and even M&S have been implicated in the past.
Do these fantastically low prices represent a false economy?
I have bought items for my primary school daughter from all the supermarkets at one time or another, as well as from BHS and Debenhams. I would have to say that the quality appears to be very similar, and I usually choose to go to Asda for most of the items. In fact I find certain things - like the summer dresses and white shirts - to be better than M&S and other higher cost stores (the material creases less, which is good for me as I don't like ironing!).
As the Aldi uniform is brand new, I have not had a chance to look at the quality. Like all the other retailers Aldi claims that it offers "great value without compromising on quality". It's worth noting that Aldi was crowned best supermarket by Which? in June 2012, and has won previous awards for its 'Best Buys' and general performance. So, there is no reason to think that the uniform will be anything but a similar quality to its competitors.
Remember as well that there is no real need for school uniforms to last forever. Many kids grow out of their clothes quickly. When my white shirts have gone strange colours in the wash, and the ink stains won't come out of the summer dresses, they can usually be discarded (recycled of course!) for being too small anyway.
What are your experiences of the school uniform market? Do any stand out as being exceptionally good or bad? Please put you observations in the comments box below!