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Nearly a third of prom parents feel the financial strain as the average cost of a high school prom hits £154

17 June 2013

35% of prom queen parents spend over £200 on their daughter's big night out

The high school prom phenomenon has well and truly crossed the pond as research from Gocompare.com reveals that almost six in 10 (59%) British 16 to 19 year olds have had, or are about to have, a high school prom night.

Peak prom season runs from around mid-June to mid-July, with the parents of school leavers spending an average of £154.00 on dresses, suits, limousines, fake tans and hair dos to ensure their prom kings and queens look great and arrive in style for their last high school hurrah.

Some parents really push the boat out spending many hundreds of pounds on designer dresses, horse drawn carriages and helicopters for the biggest party of their children's school life. However, nearly a third (30%) of parents suggested the mounting costs of attending the high school prom were another drain on already stretched finances.

Parents of potential prom queens find their pockets hit hardest, spending an average of £176.64 on their daughter's prom night, although over a third (35%) estimated spending over £200.00. And 5% of the parents who responded to the survey said they spent, or are about to spend, over £500.00 on their daughter's prom night.

Prom king parents get away with spending nearly a third less than parents of girls. They spend an average of £131.56 sprucing up the boys and booking flash cars and other extravagant transportation. 18% of prom king parents estimated spending over £200.00, and 2% said they'd spent, or were about to spend, more than £500.00 on their son's prom night.

The top ten most popular parental prom night purchases

  • 72% buy their daughter a new dress or their son a new suit
  • 62% buy the prom night ticket
  • 32% pay for professional hairdressing
  • 26% book a prom night car
  • 15% buy flowers or a corsage
  • 13% pay for a manicure/pedicure
  • 10% book a spray/fake tan
  • 10% pay for professional make-up
  • 10% arrange other forms of special prom night transportation
  • 6% splash out on hosting a pre-prom or after party

However, whilst nearly a third (32%) of parents said they were happy their children had a prom night, nearly a quarter (24%) of the parents said they found it hard to refuse to spend on the prom night even though they couldn't really afford it, and 13% said they spent too much. 11% of parents with 16 to 19 year old children would prefer it if prom nights were banned.

Claire Peate, customer insight manager at Gocompare.com, said: "The high school prom is an American tradition which has really taken off in the UK in the last few years. Peer pressure can lead to teenagers wanting to spend hundreds of pounds on looking their best and arriving in style, but nearly a third of their parents say the prom is a strain on already stretched family finances.

"Parents should consider agreeing a budget with their child from the start so that spending doesn't get out of control, and they could also encourage youngsters to meet at least some of the expense themselves. A pre-prom hair and make-up party for the girls could be fun and may save on paying professionals, and prom kings and queens could consider more imaginative ways of travelling to the prom rather than insisting on hiring an expensive stretch-limo."

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Notes to editors:

On the 3rd to the 11th of June 2013, OnePoll surveyed 1,000 randomly selected parents of 16 to 19 year old children.