There are four weeks left, but the holiday is over for parents – it’s time to start buying the kids their school uniform.
But with many families on a tight budget, where are the best bargains?
Discount supermarket chain Aldi say cash-strapped parents wanting to kit their kids out for the new school year for less without compromising on quality should head to their stores.
Last Friday Aldi launched a first for them – what they are guaranteeing is the lowest-priced school uniform available.
A complete Aldi primary school uniform set is only £4.
But how does it feel, how does it look, how long is it going to last and how does it measure up to rival uniforms?
We asked six youngsters from Carfield Primary, Meersbrook, to model uniforms from three different stores.
We picked the cut-priced offer from Aldi, plus another supermarket brand, the F&F Schoolwear range at Tesco, and uniform from M&S, a store normally perceived as selling quality, but at a higher price.
Then we put it all through the toughest test of all – the critical eye of their mums...
The £4 uniform consists of a round neck sweater (£1.25), a pack of two plain polo shirts (£1.25) and pleated skirt or trousers at £1.50.
Like all Aldi items, it’s only available while stocks last.
Aldi’s maths says the uniform costs mum and dad just 2p for each school day.
Aldi is so confident of the products it has committed to a ‘lowest price guarantee.’ If any other supermarket offers the same outfit for less than £4, it will drop its prices even lower.
Marks & Spencer:
M&S claims to have taken innovative schoolwear to the top of the class with some brand new technologies including Ink Resistant Pockets, Easy Close fastenings, Stay New technology which reduces knitwear bobbling and Stormwear finish, which repels stains and makes washing easier.
Elasticated waist bands mean skirts and trousers grow as your child does.
We tested its value uniform range.
Prices: Two-pack boys’ short-sleeved shirts from £4, two-pack trousers from £7, pure cotton jumper £3, girls’ two-pack blouses £4, two-pack shirts £7, cardigans £5.
F&F at Tesco:
This year, Tesco has added Advanced Teflon protective coatings to its school trousers, skirts and pinafores for more durability and easier cleaning, and has improved the quality of its polo and T-shirt fabrics.
Except for those sold in two-packs, trousers and skirts have adjustable waists.
Prices: Blouses and shirts from £3 for two, polo shirts from £2 for two, trousers from £5 for a pack of two, skirts from £3, cardigans and sweatshirts from £3.
How they fared
The big test - what the mums said...
Nancy Fielder, Star journalist and mum of three from Heeley, whose six-year-old son Jamie Bernard trialled the F&F at Tesco uniform:
“There wasn’t much difference in quality between the brands, but M&S just sneaked it for me. The fabric felt nicer and like it would withstand plenty of washing. If all the extra M&S features work, they are worth paying for.
“The Aldi uniform for £4 sounded too good to be true but it was great. The downside, though, is that it’s only on sale for a limited period. You can’t go back to pick up replacement pieces.
“Tesco F&F fared the worst because it fell in the middle – it wasn’t the cheapest, but it wasn’t the best quality, either, in my opinion. But it saves time if you can buy uniform while you’re doing the weekly shop.”
Kathryn Mackin, full-time mum of four, including Jimi 8, who wore Aldi, and M&S-wearers Amelia 6, Harvey 4:
“I don’t even like thinking about getting school uniform at this stage of the holidays. But I am a big fan of it. It makes things so much easier in the mornings and it’s a good leveller.
“As Jimi goes through trousers fast it’s important I can buy him trousers with an adjustable waist, which means they fit him properly from new but ‘grow’ with him, too.
“Aldi and Tesco were really hot on price, but the M&S ones got my top marks for fit.”
Kay Aspinall, teaching assistant and mum of two including our model Erin, 9, who wore F&F at Tesco:
“I normally buy uniform in the last week of the holidays because Erin just seems to grow so quickly.
“I wouldn’t have dreamed of going to Aldi for a school uniform but I was impressed.
“I found the Tesco skirt, an age 11, was very short on Erin, who is only nine. It was only 1cm longer than Aldi’s skirt for a six year-old.”
Anabela Santos, childminder and mum to two. Her daughter Izzy Santos-Bostock trialled Aldi:
“I’ve been buying uniform for years – my son Jake is 16 now.
“It is much cheaper nowadays, though I was surprised at what good value the M&S range was. I wouldn’t normally go there for it. I usually get it from Next or H&M.
“I can’t believe the price and quality of the £4 Aldi uniform. It looks really nice too and it fits well.”