Aldi sparks price war with €5 offer for school uniforms
DISCOUNT supermarket Aldi has fired the latest round in the school uniform price war -- offering uniforms for just a fiver.
The retailer is to offer skirts and trousers for €2 each, a two-pack of polo shirts for €1.25 and sweatshirts for €1.75.
The items are aimed at children aged four to 11 years old, and will be on sale from next Thursday in grey, black, red, navy, white and blue.
The €5 uniform is in stark contrast to the price paid out by parents when schools demand the non-generic option.
The Irish Independent understands that the costs of uniforms -- along with extras such as crested sports gear -- for some exclusive private schools can top €400.
However, chain stores are increasingly offering bargain uniforms to tempt more hard-pressed parents through the door.
Dunnes has similar school uniform items to those on offer at Aldi but they cost €15 to kit out a primary schoolchild. They charge from €3.50 for a skirt, €3.50 for two polo shirts and from €8 for a jumper.
And at Marks & Spencer it costs €17 for these basics in generic navy or grey, including a two-pack of skirts or trousers for €9, two polos for €4 and a cotton jumper for €4.
At both Dunnes and M&S, uniform prices tend to increase slightly for bigger sizes.
Meanwhile, at Arnotts, the bill for a generic skirt, single polo shirt and plain jumper comes in at €51 yesterday -- 10 times more than the Aldi option.
The Arnotts skirt and jumper were noticeably heavier fabrics than the cheaper Aldi items, suggesting they might last longer -- though only time will tell.
The Arnotts jumper was half wool, half acrylic but, unlike the cotton Aldi sweatshirt, could not be tumble dried and had to be washed at a lower temperature.
The Aldi polos, meanwhile, were pure cotton but claimed to be "easy iron", while the €5 Arnotts one was a polyester/cotton mix.
Aldi said their skirts and trousers were Teflon-coated to help resist stains and water.
However, many schools require parents to shell out for pricey official uniforms.
For example, a pinafore for a five-year-old attending Loreto Foxrock in Dublin costs €60 and a sweatshirt is €23, a school jacket is €50 and a polo is €10 at Arnotts.
At Uniformity in Dun Laoghaire the bill can top €400 to kit out a boy for an exclusive school such as Willow Park in Blackrock.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn last year criticised schools that require parents to purchase uniforms from exclusive suppliers that means they can't shop around.
The Department of Education said last night that Mr Quinn supported any measures such as the use of generic uniforms or sew-on crests that would reduce costs for parents.
He had held discussions with St Vincent de Paul and Barnardos on the matter and a further meeting would take place in early September.
"However, any arrangements in this regard will have to be made between school authorities and parents, as the department cannot oblige schools or their patrons to adopt a particular uniform policy," a spokesman said.