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40% of households will be ‘going without’ to pay for Christmas

12 December 2017

Cutting back on heating, clothes and food shopping and selling belongings to make sure Christmas happens

  • Only 36% of UK households say they have no money worries about Christmas;
  • 21% will be celebrating Christmas on a smaller scale than they’d like;
  • 9% of households have sold belongings to help pay for Christmas. 

With the average cost of Christmas topping £700 for UK households, 40% of people have been forced to make sacrifices to pay for this year’s festivities, including cutting back on heating, clothes and food shopping, taking on an extra job and even selling belongings, according to new research out today.*

The run-up to Christmas can be the most expensive time of year for consumers with festive gifts, family gatherings and food and drink bills.  The research reveals that only 36% of households have no financial worries about this Christmas, with over a fifth (21%) saying they will be celebrating on a smaller scale than they’d like.  One in ten surveyed said they really can’t afford Christmas this year.

The survey, commissioned by GoCompare Money, revealed that UK households anticipate they will spend an average of £726 on Christmas celebrations.  But for many households, the only way Christmas will happen this year, is with a lot of sacrifices.

Steps taken to afford Christmas 2017:

17% - Cutting back on clothes shopping

13% - Cutting back on major purchases

12% - Cutting back on food shopping

9% - Taking on more work, overtime or an extra job

9% - Selling belongings

5% - Cutting back on central heating

The cost of presents for loved-ones represent just over half of households’ expected Christmas spending and, for some is an area of concern.  A small number (5%) of those surveyed said they feel under pressure to buy expensive gifts for family and friends, 12% admitted they can’t afford to buy the presents they’d really like to and, to save money, one in ten have agreed not to exchange gifts with their partner this year.

The survey also looked at the measures savvy seasonal shoppers will take to make their money go further this Christmas.  The top ‘pays’ of Christmas include saving money through cashing-in loyalty card points, using money off vouchers, codes and apps and, buying presents in the sales.       

The 12 ‘pays’ of Christmas

 1 Cash-in loyalty card points to pay for Christmas shopping 60%
 2 Use vouchers and discount codes 58%
 3 Set and keep to a budget for presents 37%
 4 Buy presents in the sales 27%
 5 Use money-off apps 25%
 6 Reduce the number of people you buy presents for 21%
 7 Agree a price limit on gifts for family and friends 20%
 8 Downshift food shopping to a cheaper supermarket 18%
 9 Club together to buy joint presents 7%
 10 Make gifts and/or cards rather than buying them 7%
 11 Use a 0% credit card to spread the cost of Christmas 6%
 12 Arrange a family Secret Santa 4%

Commenting on the research, Georgie Frost, Consumer Advocate for GoCompare, said:

"From nagging kids, to soppy festive TV ads, shops decked out and our social media timelines full of 'perfect Christmas' posts, we are under so much pressure to part with our hard-earned cash at this time of year.

“Inevitably, this can lead to us blowing our budgets and spending money we don’t have, with many of us having to make some significant financial sacrifices at Christmas. According to GoCompare's survey, a worrying 14% of those using a credit card to pay for Christmas, expect to still be paying the debt off beyond June next year.

“The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to trim back your spending. Why pay full price for items when you can cash-in loyalty points, money-off coupons and apps and shop in the sales to reduce the cost? You can also cut back on the amount you spend on gifts or the number of people you buy for, with ideas like Secret Santa, without cutting back on the festive fun!”

For more information on interest-free credit cards see GoCompares guide page.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:

*On 22 November 2017, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,000 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.