Uniforms too expensive

Most Ashburton parents believe they are paying too much for school uniforms as the back-to-school period hits family budgets.

According to a Guardian Poll asking parents what they thought about the cost of school unifroms, 77 per cent of voters believed they were paying too much while 23 per cent said they were “well worth the money”.

Uniform shops say most primpary-aged pupils had to replace their uniforms annually, after they grew out of them or looked to change schools.

However, Ashburton parents appear to be putting steps in place to avoid the financial horrors as children throughout the district prepare for school in the coming weeks.

Pre-Christmas shopping and second hand uniforms are part of the penny-wise plans local parents have been putting in place to ensure the costly time of year does not come to a head.

Uniforms are often ear-marked as the back breaker for parents in a time when stationery and school camps loom on the term one calendar.

Uniform shops in Ashburton have seen steady business since the New Year, but places like Postie Plus Ashburton saw sales peak before Christmas as parents looked to put the stresses of school uniforms behind them.

“I suppose it is a very expensive time of year for parents and many of them would be buying while they had a bit of money before Christmas,” Postie Plus manager Shelley Heney said.

Head to toe, Ms Heney said primary school uniforms could cost up to $150 per child while secondary school-aged pupils could have uniforms in excess of $1000.

Salvation Army Community Food Bank manager Judith Lilley said there had not been anyone seeking financial assistance for uniforms as of yet, but she was confident low-income families would seek the service in the coming weeks.

The charity’s family store manager Maria Macdonald said up to 12 families could visit the second hand shop each day – all looking to purchase second hand uniforms.

With school uniforms often falling outside the budget for many families, Ms Macdonald said they often found “bits and pieces” of uniforms which she believed had another year’s wear.

“I would think a lot of people come to us because it is just so expensive on top of other fees,” Ms Macdonald said.

“It’s an awfully expensive time and I would hate to be a parent bringing up kids today . . . We sell T-shirts for about $2.50 each and winter kilts can cost between $8 to $15.”

Ms Macdonald expected more parents to seek used uniforms in the coming weeks as schools throughout the district opened their doors to sell school kits.

Uniform shops in Christchurch had reported a surge of families putting uniforms on lay by until they could afford to buy them.

Tots to Teens director Annette Fyfe said they had “quite a few on lay by” but it was on par with recent years. The main trend she had noticed was the pre-Christmas burst.

“I guess people wanted to be more organised this year but it was certainly something that has changed from other years,” she said.

Uniform shops open at Ashburton College next week along with other schools in the district.

Friday, January 18th, 2013

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