Are cheap school uniforms a false economy?

19th Jul 2016

It might not make kids any happier about the start of term, but the news that Lidl and Aldi are both offering an entire school uniform for less than £4 will be welcomed by many parents.
 
Lidl triggered the price war when it announced that its package of four primary school essentials would go on sale for £3.75. Aldi responded by reducing the price of its Back to School uniform from £4 to £3.69. The moves by the German discount supermarkets undercut other high-street retailers by as much as 80%.
 
The price cuts are sure to spark further discussion on internet forums such as Mumsnet over whether cheap, mass-produced, school uniforms are a false economy, as they might not last long when worn and washed regularly.
 
However, Tony Baines, managing director for corporate buying at Aldi, said the retailer’s uniforms offer “outstanding quality at unbeatable prices”.
 
Meanwhile, Lidl said its collection could save British families with two children up to £2,854 over their entire primary school education.
 
Ultimately, of course, it will be parents who decide how important cheaper prices are to them. It’s by no means a given that cutting prices will prove to be a successful strategy. For example, according to the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index published by the Institute of Customer Service, 28% of consumers say they would prioritise high-quality customer service quality over price – an increase of four percentage points compared to 2014.
 
Convenience and choice are additional factors that play a central role in consumers’ decision-making, above and beyond cost. There is also an ethical dimension. Our society is acutely aware of the cost of living thanks, in part, to debate around the Living Wage. Consumers want value for money, but their long-term loyalty is also dependent on the extent to which they feel employees are fairly engaged, paid and treated.

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