The added cost of buying winter uniforms before Term 2 starts on Monday is putting a strain on some Rotorua families who are searching for ways they can cut costs.

Salvation Army store manager Lisa Fraser said many parents had come in looking for uniforms but left frustrated and empty-handed because of the store's low stocks.

"They can't afford the uniforms and it's cutting into their budget way too much so they come here."

Fraser said there had been significantly fewer uniform donations than in previous years which has left parents "very distraught".

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Postie Plus Rotorua store manager Suzi Watson said the first week of the school holiday was busier than last year with parents buying warmer clothes for school.

Watson said parents tended to buy the warmer clothing when the cold became noticeable rather than at the start of the year.

Many parents made comments about the prices compared to uniform shops, she said.

"A lot of them will say they'll buy one or two items that they have to have with the logo on and then they'll buy the rest from here," Watson said.

Several parents spoken to by the Rotorua Daily Post said winter uniforms were expensive through schools and they had been looking for warm clothes without logos and for second-hand uniforms on Facebook buy-and-sell pages.

Rotorua woman Adelaide Edwards looks after her three grandchildren, two in high school and one in intermediate, and is looking for the most affordable winter options.

Edwards said uniform costs were a year-round strain and she shopped around for the cheapest options.

"They have never gone to school without, it's just harder with two at high school and next year all three will be at high school so it will be three-times everything."

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John Paul College has both a summer and winter uniform and principal Patrick Walsh said this was to make sure students dressed to the conditions to prevent getting sick.

The school had a uniform shop that did not make a profit and a second-hand uniform shop which Walsh said helped remove financial barriers.

"The bottom line for us is we don't want families to feel like they're struggling financially and depriving their children of a right to access education."

Mamaku School principal Gary Veysi said while the school did not have a uniform, the school made sure there were enough warm clothes, such as jackets, jerseys, and beanies, available and KidsCan donations helped.

He said the two seasonal uniforms made sense as it would last twice as long if looked after, and it could be passed down to future generations.

"I can understand some families who struggle with the cost ... but if you've managed your money well, in my view, it could actually save you."