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School uniform prices tumble

The cost of buying school uniforms has nearly halved over the last six years.

The supermarkets have driven prices down and 26% of sales in the category are now generated by the grocers, according to analyst business Verdict.

The cheapest average cost of buying a uniform for a 7 to 8-year-old boy – which includes a blazer, two knitted jumpers, five shirts, and two pairs of trousers - has fallen by 42.5% from £60 in 2004 to £34.50 in 2010.

The cost of a uniform for girls – which includes a blazer, two knitted five blouses and two skirts - of the same age fell by 50.9% from £53 in 2004 to £26 in 2010.

Supermarkets have dominated the sector, instigating fierce pricing wars to force prices to record lows.

Last month, Tesco said it would freeze its uniform prices at the same level as last year and offers a full Value uniform of a polo shirt, trousers or skirt and sweatshirt for just £3.75. George at Asda sells tops from £2 for a double pack and trousers and skirts from £3.

Marks & Spencer sells a uniform costing £6.50 and has also started to sell plus-size uniforms and in June Sainsbury’s launched its biggest ever back to school range and offers a basic uniform priced at £7.33.

Morrisons has also entered the battle for uniform spend for the first time with school trousers and skirts for £2 a piece.

The greatest average uniform price fall was for boys aged 12-13 where school clothing costs fell by 64.1% in six years from £78 in 2004 to £28 in 2010.

Meanwhile girls of the same age can be decked out at the cheapest cost for £31.75 in 2010, a reduction of 49.6% from six years ago.

Neil Saunders, Verdict consulting director, said: “It’s an important market financially so retailers have reduced prices to get a share of the action; but it’s also important psychologically - those that offer low prices on uniforms are seen as giving a helping hand to hard-pressed parents.”

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