The cost of Christmas for UK business

Posted on 01 November 2021

Last year Christmas was drastically altered, and with ‘Stay home’ advice in full force, cuts in wages and many shops closed, it was a very different time.  We all pledged to embrace the real meaning of family friends and loved ones, and not spend a fortune anymore. 

So what did the British Isles spend on Christmas last year and the years before? What are we planning to spend this year? Can Christmas help the businesses still suffering after Covid lockdowns?

Facts and Figures

With 97% of Brits saying they celebrate Christmas., at least £24.2 billion is spent on Christmas gifts each season.

Estimated value of retails sales in 2020 was £73.46 billion, down from pre-covid sales of £83.1 billion.

Each average adult spent approx £476 each on gifts in 2020, just £37 less than the year before.

Gen x spend more than any other generation on gifts – Generation X are those born between 1965-1980. At the other end of the scale is Generation Z (1997- 2012) who spend the least.
Gifts have a trend in prices too – the average gift for a Mum was £60-70, with dads just a little behind with an average spend of £50-60. Pets now get their own gifts too – and data shows the average pet gift spend is £31. Spending on children seems to sit around the £120 mark.

In the run up to Christmas our spending habits change as a nation. We spend on average almost £740 more in December, which is 29% more than in a typical month. Books, clothing, footwear, specialist foods, alcoholic drinks, computers and phone sales rise massively. Books sales for example, double in December, alcoholic drink sales go up by 38% and food spending rises 20%.

Where are we shopping?

It really pays to have a least part of your business online – the way we shop has continued to alter, the rise of online shopping has doubled over the past five years and continues to do so. Probably the only business to thrive in the Pandemic, yet now seeing its own issues with serious delay delays and stock becoming unavailable.  Upon questioning consumers it is now the preferred way to buy gifts. The idea of ‘shop local’ very appealing but found to not be practical, unless of course that local shop has a presence online too.


When are we shopping?

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday now an event over here from the shores of USA we have seen a sharp rise in spending in November, and people gift shopping earlier.
Just 15% of Brits shop for Christmas presents year-round but there are proven much bigger savings for those that do, as a result of discount sales and special offers throughout the year, instead of just waiting for Black Friday. Consumers may be wising up to that after leaks showing falsely inflated prices in the period before Black Friday in order to show ‘huge discounts’ on the Friday.

Can we afford it?

Across the world one fifth of people go into debt to pay for Christmas.
When it comes to festivities, Americans are the worlds biggest spenders,  in fact Americans will spend over $1 trillion on Christmas, with $150 billion of that going to online retailers.
It is calculated that Christmas spending is a quarter of all personal spending.

Returns policy?

The UK spends almost 40% more than its neighbours in Europe on Christmas. We also give to more friends, relatives and neighbours than on average in Europe.
But c
onsider your business offering a good length of return policy too – over 15% of brits were unhappy with their gifts last year.