I’m not talking about the speed at which food is hoovered up (I bought six big yoghurts and they were gone within a few hours) or the amount of extra washing. (Anyone with teenage girls will know how children dump perfectly clean clothes into a washing basket to change into the ‘appropriate’ outfit for that particular minute).
No, it’s the almost visible rubbing of hands for those businesses who rely on children and families for their income. It’s not just holidays that cost more during school holidays, it’s any type of entertainment.
It’s our modern need to continually give our kids ‘things to do, places to go, people to see’. Why is this?
When I was a kid, we went on a week’s holiday no more than 100 miles away and then I was at home day after day, week after week.
Entertainment was self-generated. Imagination was key, as were friendships.
The biggest outing was to the local corner shop with 10p to buy lots of sweets. My parents didn’t have the money for day-trips or extras which we now take for granted.
This was brought home to me this week when my son, who’s 4, desperately wanted to go to a soft play area which had moved premises to a larger site, closer to our house.
Okay, I thought, let’s go. We walked in behind a couple, probably grandparents, with two children, one in a pushchair. They were complaining about the fact that they had to pay for the baby because she was over six months.
So I looked at the price list, which frankly I hadn’t considered. At other similar sites in Swindon, you can pay per half hour, so you can control the cost and keep it within reason.
No more, the fees here were flat – so £5.95 for each of my daughters and £3.95 for my son, oh and 75p for me to take up a seat within the premises. Total cost, almost £17. That’s before buying any drinks or refreshments.
Disappointing my son, I just turned and said that it was too much money. Even if we’d gone in and I bought four drinks, we’d be looking at probably £25 for that entertainment.
As a business person, I understand that costs might need to go up but surely there needs to be some moderation. What about more flexible terms – per half hour costs for example? Or a loyalty card scheme?
As a customer, it seemed I was paying through the nose for a new venue and I employed the simplest tactic in the book – I walked out.
Even if refreshments prices had risen a little – at least that’s an expense that I choose to make. Also what extras are on offer to justify more money? Is there free internet access? An internet cafe facility?
It’s a cheek to charge parents 75p for simply taking up space within a space that was alarmingly empty anyway.
I’m afraid this business has priced itself out of the its own market. It’s only been open for a few weeks but who’s going to go there often with prices like that?
As a working mum, I know that at it’s previous location, groups of childminders would sometimes go there as a treat for their young charges. I can guarantee that they won’t go now – the cost would be far too high.
If you ever want to know what’s good value for money for entertaining children – ask your local childminders, they are experts in value for money.
Let’s hope that this small business does some serious market research around its own competitors and adjusts accordingly. Lower your prices or offer something extra and shout about it.