The hefty cost of school holidays for UK parents



58% of parents say they are concerned about the cost

New research for Nationwide Building Society reveals that parents will spend nearly £1,000 per child on childcare, days out, treats and food over the school summer holidays. For the UK’s 7.2 million children aged between 5 and 14*, the total estimated spend for the 2013 summer holidays, excluding the actual ‘holiday’, is £7.2 billion.

The study suggests that, despite 36% intending to go on holiday during 2013’s school summer break, on average, parents still expect to spend £390 per child on childcare alone. Over half (58%), said they would rely on some days out to help make looking after the children easier and are anticipating spending nearly £250 per child on entertainment and treats. The average bill for food during the holidays is expected to come in at £340.

To save money, 40% of parents will rely on grandparents or other family for childcare, whilst 22% will turn to friends for help. However, 61% admit they will need to tap into their savings to cover the cost of keeping their kids entertained during the school holidays.

Other key findings from those parents surveyed showed:

Days out, entertainment and treats for the summer holiday in 2013:

  • 44% plan between two and four day-trips over the summer, 24% plan five or six, and 8% plan seven or eight
  • The average spend on days out, buying games/DVDs, activities and family days out is £246 per child
  • 60% anticipate spending up to £300 during the holidays on entertainment
  • 11% expect that cost to be in excess of £450


  • On average parents estimate the cost of childcare for the summer holidays to be £390
  • 10% estimate the figure for childcare to be over £900

Food (supermarket shops, treats, extra meals, feeding friends and parties):

  • Most estimate the average cost of feeding each child during the holidays will be around £340
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) estimate it will be more than £450

The way parents intend to fund the additional costs of the summer holidays is varied; 61% admit they will need to raid their savings to finance summer activities, while nearly a quarter (23%) will call on their credit card and offers to make activities cheaper and 5% will borrow from family and friends.

Richard Marriott from Nationwide comments: “It’s inevitable that when the kids are not at school, the cost of normal family life rockets. Whether it’s the price of childcare, days out, having friends over, entertainment or food, most parents will feel some impact on their pockets. Yet our research shows that despite 58% admitting to worrying about how they will be able to afford it, a third of parents only begin to plan how they will cope in the month before the schools break up and a further 25% make no plans at all.

“Putting a little money away each month into a savings account for those extras might take some of the stress out of the school holidays and could mean you can afford to treat the children a little bit more.”


Image: Disney Village, Sean McEntree, Flickr


I’m Mary Cummings, a ghostwriter, collaborator and all round word doctor. I help business owners write and publish business books; I'm also passionate about helping creative freelancers find work that they love - their work sweet spot with work on their terms, projects they love and clients who are a dream to work for.

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