Confirmation Day: Parents are still going all-out
Confirmation season sees parents splashing out for the one-day celebration regardless of the cost, but money is in short supply and some need a helping hand in the form of a loan, partly driven by the need to keep their children on trend with their peers.
The pressure of keeping up with the latest trends - clothes, going for a meal, entertainment - has many parents turning to their local credit union to apply for a small loan to cover the day's expenses.
Orla Doyle, Loan Officer in Enniscorthy Credit Union, said the credit union has been helping out people for 50 years, but in the last few years she has seen an increase in small loan applications to cover Confirmation costs.
'We have parents come in looking for about €500. They have to think about an outfit for their child, entertainment and then the meal out as well. If you only have 10 people and the meal is €25 per person that alone is €250, so it is an expensive day,' said Mrs Doyle.
She said the expense not a deterrent, as parents feel they need to keep up with the latest trends for their child's sake,
'I think the reason why we have an increase in small loan applications is that you can pay it off as soon as you have the money, you are not limited to paying it off in 12 months, if that is what you signed for,' said Mrs Doyle.
Image is important to the pre-teen who is making their Confirmation, but, of course, that comes at a price. They want to look cool, fashionable, and wear the latest styles that they see their celebrity heroes wearing.
Hore's Stores Company Director Padraig Hore's sales are up by 30 per cent this year, with 'stock flying off the shelves since January'.
'We have noticed that Conor McGregor is a big influence on 12 year old boys this year. Boys are getting three piece suits for their big day. Normally we don't sell boys Confirmation stock until February but for some reason they all came in together by January,' said Mr Hore.
Mr Hore said they have been really busy for the month of February, especially with the mid-term break. He said if they didn't have Confirmations around this time the business would definitely be a lot quieter.
'Parents are still going all out for their child's outfit, and I have noticed this over the years with a slight increase year-by-year. Our suits range from €90 to €180, so it is affordable to some,' said Mr Hore.
Babooshka in Wexford cater for 11- and 12-year-old girls, so owner Siobhan Kearney ends up shipping outfits all over Ireland.
'Girls clothes are more affordable these days for parents, it is just finding the right outfit. A few years a go you could spend about €150, but now you can purchase a dress for about €70 and it can be worn again.
'Style has not changed much for girls, it is pretty much the skater dress, Converse and a jacket,' she said.
Ms Kearney said her Confirmation outfit sales have increased dramatically over the years, boosted by websales.
'With the fashion these days parents do not want to see their girls in a skimpy outfit and are delighted and relieved to see their child in something more age appropriate. It is hard to find shops who cater for that age group,' said Mrs Kearney.
Hotels have seen an increase in business in the last ten years with classrooms now containing more than 30 children.
Marketing Manager for Kelly's Resort Hotel, Pauline Power, said they are fully booked for the next few weekends as the hotel is a popular destination for confirmations.
'It is an expensive day for parents, but it takes some of the pressure off them as they do not have to worry about anything. We offer a four-course meal worth €30 and then the hotel provide a lot of entertainment. The children can enjoy music, the bouncy castle and some archery,' said Ms Power.
By the start of October nearly all parents would have received their dates for their child's Confirmation.
'We don't open our booking facility until October 11. We wait for all parents to receive a date, and this way everyone gets a chance to book in advance. It would be recommended that if you do want Kelly's Hotel you book it straight away as sadly we can't cater for or fit everyone,' she said.
Susan Caulfield, Sales Manager in the Ashdown Park Hotel, Gorey, said the hotel designed a Confirmation package last year that proves to be popular as sales have not dropped since then.
'We offer a four-course meal worth €24.95, €10 for children and then it is free for the child who is making their Confirmation. We take a family photograph that they take home at the end of the day, and if the parties are big enough we provide a children's disco. We also give out discount vouchers for Pirates Cove in Courtown,' she said.
Ms Caulfield said parents still do 'spend big with some almost looking like a mini-wedding for the girls'.