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World Book Day 2021 Costume Survey

Kiddi Caru - 8th February 2021

Thursday 4th March 2021 is World Book Day – whether you love it or loath it.

For children, it’s a day that’s all about costumes and make-believe. And what could be better than spending the day at nursery school reading, or listening, to a much-loved story all the while dressed up as a favourite character from that book?

But for parents, the event conjures a range of complex emotions – especially in those who have spent the night before furiously sewing sequins and glueing bits here, there and everywhere until 3am.

While we all know we can simply bite the Amazon bullet, to many it’s just an additional, unwanted expense, especially in such challenging times. Not to mention the competitive element, as we all look to create something that will look fantastic on our social feeds – and give us top parent points.

The big question is: how do parents really feel about World Book Day?

Well, we conducted a survey of over 750 parents and it seems that opinions are evenly divided. Scroll down as we reveal the results.

Does your child expect to wear a costume on World Book Day?

Interestingly, just over half of the parents we surveyed (52%) said that their child or children are expected to dress up for World Book Day.

And surprisingly, only one in five parents believe their children will be expecting their costume to be impressive.

Of course, if we asked the children that same question, the figure could be higher!

Whilst children may not be too fussy, more than one in four (28%) parents admit to feeling pressure or judgement from other parents when it came to their child’s costume.

This probably explains why almost 60% buy their children’s costumes, settling the homemade vs bought costume debate.

When do you tend to make your child’s costume for World Book Day?

If you’ve ever found yourself scrambling around for craft supplies or hauling the sewing machine out of the loft at the thirteenth hour, you’d apparently be in the minority. For those who don’t buy-in, only 20% admitted to making a costume the night before.

For those that love the challenge of making a costume from scratch, how long are you expected to spend on your masterpiece?

Over half (52%) reckon it only takes them a couple of hours, while at the other end of the spectrum, nearly one in five (17%) of those surveyed reportedly spend more than a day perfecting their child’s costume.

And with well over half of parents simply biting the bullet and buying a costume, how much are we spending?

Well, whilst we reveal some staggering statistics further down, the general consensus is anything up to £30 is acceptable. Although, one participant revealed they spend in excess of £50!

It’s not surprising that the majority of parents buy their child’s costume, as when asked Do you enjoy making costumes?

Nearly 60% of those surveyed, said that they did not. However, it appears that plenty of parents – over 40% - do enjoy the challenge of DIY outfits.

Finally, for those who make the costume, how many parents take on the task entirely by themselves?

Of those who don’t order their costume in, roughly half get the children involved in the making.

Do you think there is too much emphasis on costumes for World Book Day?

When asked if there’s too much emphasis on costumes for the day, opinion was divided near 50/50!

And when asked if Superhero costumes were suitable for World Book Day, the majority answered: “yes” (68%).

Finally, do you look forward to World Book Day?

And last, but by no means least, we asked if parents looked forward to the event itself, and even probed for a reason why – or why not!

Only one in four parents answered no, meaning that despite the expense and frantic costume making, the vast majority do in fact enjoy World Book Day!

Looking for Costume Ideas & Inspiration?

We asked parents what they thought the most popular World Book Day costumes would be in 2021.

While Harry Potter was hugely popular (30%), characters from the Marvel and DC franchises were popular with boys (11%), while Disney Princesses, in particular Elsa from Frozen, were likely to inspire girls’ costumes (23%).

For parents of pre-school aged children, characters from the Julia Donaldson books proved likely contenders – with Zog and the Gruffalo receiving plenty of votes… no doubt down to their appearances on TV over Christmas. Unsurprisingly, other popular authors included David Walliams and Roald Dahl.

Before you go out and buy your favourite Superhero Princess costume, consider this.

There are approximately 4,850,000 primary and pre-school children in the UK. As we mentioned, almost 60% of those surveyed revealed that they buy World Book Day costumes, rather than making them.

  • 40% spend £10 = over £10 million
  • 58% spend £30 = over £45 million

This means that parents in the UK might be forking out as much as £55 million on costumes for World Book Day – and around a third of those sales will potentially be characters owned by Disney: Superheroes, Disney Princesses or other characters. If only that money was pumped back into books and learning resources…

Finally, we wanted to thank everyone who participated in our survey. We found the results fascinating and your comments inspiring. Whether you plan to go all-out and create a fancy-dress extravaganza, or keep it simple and focus on the joy of books, we hope that everyone has a wonderful World Book Day celebration.

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