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Students set to spend £3.26bn ahead of arriving at university this year, as costs continue to rise

On average, each student will spend approximately £1,027 ahead of the new year – overall spending is forecast to be 19% higher than in 2021.

Household goods (65%) and fashion/school supplies (64%) are among the most needed items for Gen Z

Spend among freshers will be 18% higher than returning students, with those going into their first year of university set to spend £1,215 on average.

A new “Back to Campus” report from UNiDAYS, the world’s leading Student Affinity Network, has revealed that students are poised to spend approximately £3.26 billion total ahead of arriving at University in autumn 2022, during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

The forecast marks a clear increase in expenditure when compared to the total from 2021 which stood at £2.7bn, down from £2.8bn in 2020. With students intending to spend 19% more this year than in 2021, a sign that pre-university bills are rising rapidly.

On average, each student is forecast to spend approximately £1,027 ahead of the new year. However, for freshers this figure rises to £1,215 amongst those going into their first year of university. Freshers are racking up bills on essentials and are predicted to spend 42% more on computers and hardware and 60% more on kitchen and bedrooms when compared to returning students.

The largest number of students (65%) plan to spend money on grocery and household goods. However, total planned spend on grocery and household goods is just over a quarter (£281million) of the whopping £1.04billion forecast to be spent by 38% of students on computers and hardware.

With a further £948million due to be spent on electronic gadgets, Gen Z are turning en masse to tech to ensure they’re ready for their return to university.

Further down the list of priorities comes fashion (£252million planned spend), alongside school supplies (£154million), despite over six in ten (64%) choosing items in these categories. ASOS, Primark, Zara, Nike and New Look are the most popular clothing retailers for students.

Cosmetics and beauty items will also see relatively lower spending, with 50% of students looking to purchase them, totalling a potential £136m. Despite the rising costs, subscription services remain popular among students, with 37% choosing products that fit this description. Amongst the most popular subscription services Gen Z opt for are gym/health (65%), music (62%) and home entertainment (53%).

When it comes to factors that most significantly influence student purchasing choices, price and quality are the top factors across all categories. However, it’s clear that students also have a keen eye for a bargain, with discounts and promotions being a key influence on their purchase decisions.

Alex Gallagher, Chief Strategy Officer at UNiDAYS said: “Amidst the cost-of-living crisis, Gen Z students are facing significantly increased costs to prepare for the year of study ahead. With shopping habits shifting in light of rising prices, brands must seize the opportunity to drive affinity with Gen Z. To do this it’s crucial that brands adjust their offering – adopting a strong pricing strategy which will help them to better resonate with the Gen Z audience priorities and values during the current economic climate.”

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References: 1. UNiDAYS survey informed by panel of 2,967 Gen Z students across the UK conducted in April 2022. About UNiDAY UNiDAYS is the world’s leading Student Affinity Network, with a verified global audience of over 20 million student members across 115 countries. UNiDAYS works with 800 of the world’s biggest brands globally, taking their products and services into the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s professionals, by inspiring Gen Z to discover and connect with the brands and services they need. Its global members have spent more than $5 billion through the UNiDAYS marketplace since 2018. Through its identity technology, secure brand-safe environment and marketing solutions, UNiDAYS delivers reach and engagement for brand partners, maximising sales and building long-term affinity, at scale and speed across a full range of channels. The company has over 200 staff, with headquarters in Nottingham, UK, and with offices in London, New York and Sydney.

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