Lidl said the package of four primary school essentials – comprising two polo shirts, a sweater and trousers or pleated skirt – would go on sale for £3.75 next Thursday.
In response its rival Aldi slashed its earlier offer of £4 for its Back to School uniform – the same items – to just £3.69.
The parallel moves undercut other high street retailers by as much as 80%.
Aldi fired the opening shots in the new price war in June, when it launched its £4 uniform package – offering a round-neck sweater for just £1.25, a two-pack of plain polo shirts for £1.25 and a school skirt or pair of trousers for £1.50 – adding up to £4.
But cutting the price further this week, Tony Baines, managing director for corporate buying at Aldi, said: “In order to deliver outstanding quality at unbeatable prices, we have reduced the retail price of our Back to School uniform package from £4 to £3.69.”
Lidl said its collection – comprising 41 separate items and including 100% cotton fabrics and leather shoes – could save British families with two children up to £2,854 over their entire primary school education. The discounter claims it offers an 80% saving compared to John Lewis’s uniform range. At John Lewis, the same items cost £19, at Marks & Spencer they are £15, Sainsbury’s £13.50, Tesco £8.50 and at Asda £7.50.
“Over the course of seven years at primary school, parents can find themselves racking up thousands of pounds in the cost of school uniforms, which can be especially tough on families with more than one child,” said Josie Stone, non-food buying manager for Lidl UK.
At this time of year, internet talkboards such as Mumsnet are dominated by parents’ concerns that cheap, mass-produced, poor quality school uniforms are a false economy, as they will not last long when worn and washed regularly. Aldi said its range, in sizes 4-11, had been praised for its quality in independent tests.
Lidl insisted that, despite the price, product quality had not been overlooked. But earlier this year the chain sparked controversy when it offered a pair of jeggings for just £5.99 at its 600-plus UK stores. The items were manufactured in Bangladesh, where the minimum legal wage for a garment worker is 23p an hour. Lidl said the school uniforms were made in Bangladesh and China.
Martin Buttle, head of apparel and textiles at the Ethical Trading Initiative, said: “Paying an extra couple of pounds on a school uniform is not normally a massive cost to a UK consumer, but the difference can be huge to a Bangladeshi or Chinese garment worker.”
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