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Back to school: What are retailers doing to kick off the new term?

With the summer holidays slowly creeping to an end, for many families, focus has shifted from entertaining their children over the long break to preparing them for the beginning of the upcoming school year in September.

Due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, many families to forced to cut back on their spending habits, and the preparations made for children’s return to school will be no different this year. However, many retailers have launched a few back-to-school campaigns to help families navigate themselves amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

InternetRetailing rounds up what retailers are offering this year:


Last month, Marks and Spencer launched its partnership with Ebay and Oxfam to sell second-hand school uniforms.

The scheme is part of the retailer’s “shwopping” partnership with the anti-poverty charity, allowing shoppers to buy good quality ‘pre-loved’ uniforms amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

As a result, the high street retailer has introduced dedicated “shwopping” boxes in 200 sites for customers to donate any item of school clothing, including those with school badges and from any retailer, with the second-hand uniform to be sold through Ebay’s pre-loved uniform shop and Oxfam stores, with all profits going to charity.

At the time, M&S Kidswear director Alexandra Dimitriu said: “We know our customers frequently hand down our school uniform to friends and family and this season, we’re encouraging them to drop school uniforms which they no longer need into one of our new Shwopping boxes where it will be resold in Oxfam shops and through our exciting pilot shop with Ebay.

“It’s one of the many ways we’re trying to make our best-in-class school uniform accessible to all families, however, and whenever they choose to shop.”

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John Lewis

The department store recently revealed it was locking prices across its entire school uniform range in a bid to help customers during the cost-of-living crisis.

Some of the items include the retailer’s Anyday range, alongside knitwear, shorts, shirts and dresses. It also added more affordable shoe options.

John Lewis children’s clothing and schoolwear buyer, Cydney Ball said: “Our focus remains on providing high-quality, great value school uniforms which are made to last.

“With government guidance encouraging schools to move away from branded school uniform items, we expect more customers to look to us for jumpers and blazers this year.”

Meanwhile, the company announced a 25% off promotion on its entire own-brand schoolwear range, for the first time.

Ball added: “More than ever, we know how important value for money and great quality is to our customers. That’s why we’ve committed to keeping our school uniform prices flat on last year and are running this promotion throughout the school holidays.”


The health and beauty retailer launched its ‘Back to School Give Back’ campaign to raise awareness of its partnership with Beauty Banks.

The campaign encourages customers to donate at Superdrug donation points nationwide in a bid to support families struggling with hygiene poverty.

The move comes as it has been reported that sending a child back to state secondary school costs at least £39 a week.

Superdrug’s brand director Jamie Archer said: “We want to support families and communities as much as we can and understand that with the current cost of living the number of people living in hygiene poverty is increasing.

“We hope our donation of 5,000 products can help those that require the support at this time and we urge anyone that can continue to donate hygiene products to Beauty Banks at any of our 100 in-store donation points.”

The company has also pledged to donate 5,000 hygiene products to the charity to assist families in need.


Also helping to tackle rising uniform costs, Decathlon has launched its under £25.00 Back to Sports Pack, to ensure all children have the accessibility to participate in sports in and outside of school.

The move comes as research by the sportswear company has revealed that 63% of families have experienced struggles with funding the rising cost of school uniforms and PE kits for their children.

As a result two in five children have had to partake in sports in sub-standard kit.

“Sport habits and participation are known to be developed at school age, and grow through adult life,” Decathlon commercial lead Will Taylor said.

“We know that kids are keen to try out new sports, however, we understand that the cost of gear and kit can act as a barrier to participation.

“The Back to School Pack helps parents and children save significantly on the cost of essential school sports kit, and will hopefully allow more children and young people to try out the sports and activities that they want to, without breaking the bank.”


Sainsbury’s has committed to keeping its uniform prices from last year, battling inflation and helping support families shopping for the back-to-school season.

Its clothing brand Tu is also donating £100,000 from sales of school uniforms to its longstanding charity partner Comic Relief to support free school meals and kids’ food clubs across the UK, amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Emma Benjafield, director of product at Sainsbury’s Clothing, said: “We know life is tough for many of our customers who are facing increased costs of living, so we want to do everything we can to support families who need support now more than ever.

“To support families battling inflation, we won’t increase Tu’s school uniform prices this year and we hope this, along with our 150-day guarantee, will give parents peace of mind when shopping with us this back-to-school season.”

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All retailers mentioned are featured in the 2023 RXUK Top500 report which highlights how the leaders in this market are proving flexible and adaptable in response to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation.

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