Sainsbury’s is the cheapest big retailer for parents looking to save money buying uniforms for the new school year, Which? research has found.
The consumer champion analysed prices of a selection of essential 9-year-old sized school uniform items at eight popular supermarkets and clothing retailers.
Overall, Tu Clothing at Sainsbury’s was the cheapest place to buy the school uniform items Which? included in its analysis, with two each of pinafore dresses, polo shirts, skirts, sweatshirts, boys’ trousers and girls’ trousers costing a total of £47.
Morrisons was just £1.95 more expensive, costing £48.95 in total. Its polo shirts come in bigger packs of three, so shoppers do get more for their money, but even when Which? adjusted the price to two-thirds of the pack, Morrisons still finished second in the table overall. Similarly, Tesco sells three polo shirts in a pack costing £7.50, but its place in the table was not changed when Which? factored in a “price for two” equivalent.
Sainsbury’s had the cheapest items available in four of the uniform categories, including polo shirts for £4 – joint with Asda, sweatshirts for £3, boys’ trousers for £8 and girls’ trousers costing £9.
The cheapest pinafore dresses and skirts were found at Morrisons, costing £10 and £8 respectively.
The most expensive place to buy the uniform selection was Next, where the items cost more than double the price of Sainsbury’s, totaling £102. However, some of the items are sold individually rather than in multipacks, so Which? doubled the price of a single item for the purposes of the basket comparison.
Which? looked at a range of supermarkets and clothing retailers. While not included in Which?’s price analysis, Aldi and Lidl also sell cheap uniforms in-store. For instance, both run a £5 uniform bundle deal – but these are ‘special buys’ which tend to sell out quickly and generally do not get restocked, so they were not included.
Many school uniform items are sold in multipacks of two, three, four, and five pieces. Although this might provide good value for basic white polo shirts that kids often need to wear fresh each day, it’s not always necessary to buy so many sets of school trousers or skirts. Parents should think about how many items their kids will really need, as well as working out the price per item in a multipack to see if they will actually save by buying in bulk.
Some parents will be eligible for a school uniform grant worth £200, depending on their income and where they live. The grants are typically available for people receiving benefits such as Universal Credit and child tax credit, but they may also be eligible if their child receives free school meals. Not every council in England offers this, but parents and guardians can check what’s on offer via the government website. Grant schemes also differ across the UK.
Ele Clark, Which? Retail Editor, said:
“School uniforms don’t come cheap – especially if you have to buy them for more than one child. Household budgets have been battered by the unrelenting cost of living crisis, but our latest research shows some retailers will help your money go further than others when you’re buying school uniform for the kids.
“Parents and guardians can also save money by buying second-hand, opting for multipacks, choosing longer-lasting options such as trousers with a hem that can be let down, and of course keeping an eye out for special offers.”
Notes to editors
- Which? checked the prices of items from Sainsbury’s, Asda, John Lewis, Matalan, M&S, and Next on 9th August 2023 – and 26th July for Morrisons and Tesco who shared the prices directly with Which?.
- Which? solely focused on the prices of certain uniform items, and did not take into consideration any differences in the quality of items, comfort, or their durability.
Table of results (all prices are for two of each item):
|Retailer||Pinafore dresses||Polo shirts||Skirts||Sweatshirts||Boys’ trousers||Girls’ trousers||Total|
|Sainsbury’s – Tu clothing||£11.00||£4.00||£9.00||£6.00||£8.00||£9.00||£47.00|
|Morrisons – Nutmeg range||£10.00||£4.95*||£8.00||£7.00||£9.00||£10.00**||£48.95|
|Asda – George clothing||£12.00||£4.00||£10.00||£7.00||£10.00||£10.00||£53.00|
|Tesco – F&F Clothing||£14.00||£7.50*||£11.00||£9.00||£12.00||£11.00||£64.50|
|John Lewis – ANYDAY range||£14.00||£9.00||£11.00||£16.00**||£13.00||£22.00**||£85.00|
- Prices are for two of each item (except those marked with an asterisk – explained below). Which? included two of each popular schoolwear item to more closely reflect what children realistically tend to need, and because most items are sold in packs of two.
- *Cost for a pack of three as two-packs aren’t sold. Two-thirds of the cost of a three-pack would be £3.30 for Morrisons and £5 for Tesco, bringing their respective basket totals to £47.30 and £62.
- **Cost for two single items as two-packs aren’t sold.
- Prices are based on 9-year-old sizes and correct as of 9 August, except for Morrisons and Tesco which don’t sell online, and were checked on 26 July. The cheapest price for each item is in bold.
- The data includes any special offers that were available on the days our data collection took place, but not loyalty scheme discounts
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