‘Back to school’ spending in the UK has dropped by about 5% since last year – but parents will still spend a total of £1.48bn kitting out their kids for the new term.

Research by Nationwide shows that parents will spend an average of £174.31 getting their children ready for school this summer, a drop of about £12 since 2016.

The biggest expense, according to Nationwide’s poll of 2,000 UK parents, is the school uniform, which costs an average of £32.

School shoes are the second biggest expense at £27.25 followed by a new coat (£22.52), sports shoes (£19.96) and PE kit (£16.68).

Parents are also shelling out an average of £13.53 on a new school bag, £9.94 on stationery and £7.92 on books.

Parents will spend £9.94 on stationery this year getting their children ready for school

Most prices are similar to the amount paid last year, but Nationwide’s survey does show a dramatic decrease in the amount spent on technology – from £26.12 in 2016 to £7.97 this year.

Nationwide said many parents head to shops designated by schools to buy jumpers, sweatshirts, blazers, ties and sports kit, but to the supermarket for trousers, skirts and shirts.

The poll found that 79% of parents make their purchases during the summer holidays, 25% look for bargains as they buy throughout the year and 14% wait until just before the end of the previous school year.

Nearly six in ten parents (59%) are concerned about the cost of getting their little one ready for school.

Families are often under enormous financial pressure throughout the year, and particularly so when the kids are going back to school

Larry Banda, director of financial planning, Nationwide
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More than a third (37%) dip into their savings in order to fund the purchases, 25% will use a credit card and 11% will turn to grandparents for financial help.

Larry Banda, Nationwide’s director of financial planning, said: “Families are often under enormous financial pressure throughout the year, and particularly so when the kids are going back to school.

“As much as your children will get too big for their shoes, you don’t want your bills to outgrow your wallet.

“There are a number of ways parents can cover the costs by planning ahead as much as possible. These include snapping up bargains when we see them, or building a pot of savings.

“And with the survey showing a quarter of parents use credit cards we would always advocate making sure that you can afford the payments and to research the best deals for you – from balance transfers period and interest free purchase periods, to cashback offers.”