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Prom costs rocket to over £200 as the US tradition sweeps across the UK

16 June 2014

Average amount spent on a daughter’s prom increases to £204 – up from £176 in 2013

The high school prom is one American import that is sweeping the nation and costing UK parents a packet. According to new research from Gocompare.com, 83% of 16 to 19 year olds in the UK have had, or are going to have, a high school prom, an increase of over a third from 59% last year.

But the study has found that it’s not just the popularity of the prom that’s growing, the costs are growing too. The average cost of a high school prom has increased from £154 last year to £186 this year. That’s an increase of over 20%.

The average amount spent on a daughter’s prom in 2013 was £176 but that has shot up to £204 this year. Boys have a slightly cheaper night out spending on average £167, up from £131 last year. Parents, on average, pick up the bills for 76% of the prom night costs but nearly half (48%) pay for everything.

  • Average cost of a prom now £186 – Up over 20% from 2013
  • Average cost of a daughter’s high school prom night - £204
  • Average cost of a son’s high school prom night - £167
  • Average share of costs paid for by parents – 76%
  • Nearly half (48%) of parents pick up all of the prom night bills
  • 10% of parents said they’d spent over £400 on their daughter’s prom

Peak prom season runs from around mid-June to mid-July, with the parents of school leavers forking out for new dresses, suits, limousines, fake tans and hair dos to ensure their prom kings and queens look great and arrive in style for the biggest party of their high school lives.

The most popular prom night purchases (aside from the ticket):

  1. 84% of  girls have a new dress – 75% of boys have a new suit or outfit
  2. 61% of girls and 50% of boys have a professional hair do
  3. 36% of girls and 28% of boys pay for a prom night car
  4. 32% of girls buy flowers or a corsage – 19% of boys buy them for their date
  5. 27% of girls have a their make-up professionally applied
  6. 22% of girls and 8% of boys have a spray/fake tan
  7. 10% of girls and boys host a pre or after prom party
  8. 10% of girls and 11% of boys arrange unusual prom night transport

However, whilst over a third (35%) of parents said they were really pleased that their children had or were going to have a prom night, nearly a quarter (24%) of parents said they found the prom was a drain on family finances which were already stretched and 12% said they spent too much. 10% 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 more popular than ever and hundreds of thousands of school leavers are preparing for the biggest party of their high school lives before going on to further education or starting a career. The high school prom is fast becoming a rite of passage for UK teenagers as it is in the USA but it is a further expense that many cash strapped parents are struggling to pay for.

“With parents on average picking up around three quarters of prom costs they should discuss the matter of money with their children and consider agreeing a budget with from the start so that spending doesn’t get out of control. Other ways to save money could include picking up a prom dress from a clothes exchange or websites like ebay instead of buying new and a pre-prom hair and make-up party for girls may be an entertaining and cost effective way to avoid paying for professionals. Prom kings and queens could also ditch the fancy limo’s for a friend’s car or go green and walk instead and everyone should remember that the high school prom isn’t about who can spend the most money but having fun with your friends before setting off into the big wide world.”

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Notes to editors:

Between the 6th and the 11th of June 2014, OnePoll surveyed 1,000 randomly selected UK parents of 16 to 19 year old children.