Christmas shopping and spending statistics UK | 2021

How much are Brits going to spend on gifts this year?

From watching the lights turn on in your local town centre to tucking into a roast dinner, there’s nothing quite like a white Christmas in the UK. Being such a celebrated time of year, 1 in 10 Brits begin their Christmas shopping as early as July. We did some research to find out how much Brits are spending on gifts over this holiday season.

How much are Brits planning to spend this Christmas?

The percentage of people buying gifts is set to drop to 89%, an 8% decrease from last year’s 97%.

According to our research, the average British adult will also fork out £548 on Christmas gifts in 2021, a £72 increase from 2020’s budget of £476 and just £35 more than Christmas spend in 2019. Overall the UK is planning to spend £25.6 billion this year on Christmas gifting, up from last year’s figure of £24.2 billion and down from the £26.9 billion spent on Christmas gifts in 2019.

Spend per person Overall spend
2021 £548 £25,596,488,981
2020 £476 £24,200,000,000
2019 £513 £26,900,000,000
2021 2020
% of UK spending 89% 97%

Are Brits reducing their Christmas budget?

Over two-thirds of the UK (69%) plan to cut costs on gifts in 2021, this is up from the 49% who planned to spend less on Christmas gifts in 2020 and the 60% who planned to reduce spending in 2019.

In response to being asked how they would cut costs this year, 26% said they would set a price limit on gifts with friends and family, down from the 39% who planned to do so in 2019. Meanwhile, 17% of respondents said they will take advantage of the 2021 Black Friday sales to purchase their gifts at a discounted price. 14% will reuse gift packaging and 10% plan to get crafty by hand-making gifts instead.

Ways to cut costs % of responses
I don't plan to cut costs this Christmas 31%
Setting a price limit with family and friends 27%
Reusing gift packaging e.g. wrapping paper, gift bags 14%
Giving an inexpensive experience as a gift (e.g. massage, picnic) 9%
Secret Santa instead of buying gifts for multiple people 9%
Buy second-hand gifts 8%
I will be re-gifting 8%
Waiting for Boxing Day sales to buy gifts 8%
Giving freebies as gifts 8%

Christmas spend by gender

91% of women are planning to spend on Christmas gifts in 2021, this is 7% less than the 98% who planned to spend in 2020. In contrast, only 87% of men will spend on gifts this Christmas, 9% less than the 96% who spent in 2020. This means that, for the second consecutive year, more women than men will be buying gifts this Christmas.

Regarding spend, men will be spending 35% more than women, with a budget of £635. Women plan to fork out just £472 on presents this year – £14 more than 2020’s figure of £458.

Men Women
Average spend 2021 £635 £472
Average spend 2020 £495 £458

Cutting costs by gender

73% of women in the UK will cut costs this Christmas, compared to 65% of men. This is up from the 51% of women who planned to spend less in Christmas 2020 and the 46% of men who planned to do the same.

Christmas spend by generation

92% of millennials plan to spend on gifts this Christmas, followed by 89% of the silent generation and 86% of generation Z. 83% of baby boomers will purchase presents this year, while just 77% of generation X will buy gifts.

% spending on gifts
Generation Z 85.56%
Millennials 91.95%
Generation X 76.94%
Baby boomers 82.89%
Silent generation 88.76%

Christmas budgets by generation

In 2021, the silent generation will spend the most, with a planned budget of £660 per person. This is a stark difference to last year’s results, which revealed generation X as the age group planning to spend the most in 2020 (£576). In 2020, generation Z had the lowest budget for festive gifts, with a planned spend of £207 each. In 2021, the lowest spenders will be generation X, with a planned spend of £471. This is just £1 less than generation Z’s planned spend of £472.

Generation Average spend (2021) Average spend (2020) Average spend (2019)
Generation Z (born after 1996) £472 £207 £212
Millennials (born 1981–1996) £615 £506 £539
Generation X (born 1965–1980) £576 £576 £636
Boomers (born 1946–1964) £471 £440 £453
Silent (born 1928–1945) £660 £475 £496

Cutting costs by generation

Our research found that 87% of millennials and 87% of generation Z will be cutting costs in 2021. This is followed by generation X (70%), baby boomers (50%) and finally the silent generation (41%).

In 2020, 67% of generation Z planned to cut costs, followed by millennials (61%). Meanwhile, just under a quarter of those in the silent generation said they would spend less.

Cutting costs Not cutting costs
Generation Z 87% 13%
Millennials 87% 13%
Generation X 70% 30%
Baby boomers 50% 50%
Silent generation 41% 59%

Christmas spend by region

98% of those in Northern Ireland will be spending on gifts this Christmas, followed by the East of England (94%), Scotland (91%) and both South East and South West (90%). On the other end of the spectrum, just 84% of those in the East Midlands will be buying gifts in 2021.

According to our 2021 research, Londoners will be splashing the most cash this Christmas, with a planned spend of £1,176. Interestingly, this is a 98% increase from Londoners’ planned spend of £595 in 2020 – which means that the Christmas budget in London has almost doubled in the past year.

Those in Scotland plan to spend £700 this year (26% more than 2020’s planned spend of £555), while those in West Midlands have the lowest planned spend of £302. This is also the biggest drop in budget, as in 2020, those in West Midlands planned to spend 33% more (£452).

2021 spend 2020 spend % change from 2020 to 2021
Yorkshire and the Humber £443 £464 -4%
London £1,176 £595 98%
South West £394 £439 -10%
South East £531 £435 22%
Wales £383 £611 -37%
Scotland £700 £555 26%
West Midlands £302 £452 -33%
North West £449 £406 11%
North East £593 £485 22%
East of England £381 £422 -10%
Northern Ireland £533 £519 3%
East Midlands £343 £397 -14%
% spending for Christmas
Yorkshire and the Humber 88%
London 89%
South West 90%
South East 90%
Wales 85%
Scotland 91%
West Midlands 89%
North West 85%
North East 89%
East of England 94%
Northern Ireland 98%
East Midlands 84%

What are the most common lies that people tell around Christmas?

People are most likely to be dishonest about the gifts they receive. 40% of Brits have said they liked a present when they didn’t, and 22% have been given something they already owned, but pretended otherwise.

The next most common untruth was people spending more than they could afford on Christmas presents and paraphernalia, but keeping it a secret — one in five (19%) Brits have done this.

Up next, some slightly less innocent lies: 15% of people have gifted something they already owned claiming it was new, and 13% have lied about being busy over the holidays to avoid visiting or hosting people.

All the lies

Common lies Percentage
I received a present that I didn’t like but I told the person who gave it to me that I did like it 40%
I received a present that I already owned, but I told the person who gave it to me that I didn’t already have it 22%
I spent more than I could afford on presents and/or decorations, but I didn’t tell anyone 19%
I have given a present that I already owned and claimed it was new 15%
Pretended to be busy around Christmas so we/I didn’t have to visit or host friends or family 13%
I told people that I enjoy Christmas, but I actually don’t enjoy the Christmas period 10%
I claimed that a present I gave to a family member or friend cost more than it actually did 7%
I claimed that food I served was homemade, when it was actually purchased from a store 4%
I claimed that a gift I gave was homemade, when it was actually purchased from a store 4%

The true cost of Christmas

After analysing top supermarket prices to calculate the average cost of a British Christmas, we’ve found out which traditional favourites Brits could be splurging on the most.

Picture not described

Topping as the most expensive item on the food shopping list is wine where the average household could be spending an average of £66 on enough bottles for a family of 4 or above. This is followed by a cheeseboard selection (£32), Christmas pudding (£23), pigs in blankets (£22) and roast potatoes (£16).

In total, a Christmas dinner for a family of 4 or more is expected to cost £291 on average. At most, that’s £73 per person indulging in a festive meal on the big day. Furthermore, purchasing Christmas decorations could cost £176 per household on average. The costliest items on the list are Christmas trees (£36), LED lights (£20), Garlands (£16) and a 6 pack box of Christmas crackers (£14).

With an average of £449 being spent on Christmas decorations and food combined, and £548 spent on gifts, the average British household is set to spend at least £997 each on festivities this Christmas. This equates to 52% of the average monthly household income after tax and pension (£1,913).

How much could Christmas cost in 2022?

With the IMF predicting that the inflation rate could increase to 2.62% in 2022, we estimate that the cost of Christmas will rise to a hefty £1,023 per household in the next year, at least. This amounts to 53% of the estimated monthly household income of £1,926 for 2022 (after tax and pension).

While the UK is expected to shell out a whopping £6.5 billion on both Christmas preparations and gifts this December, rising rates in inflation and household growth could increase overall Christmas spending to almost £7 billion (£6.9 billion) next year.

Reemul Balla, shopping expert at finder.com, comments on this research:

While there’s an increase in overall spending, fewer people across the country are actually planning to buy gifts this year. Considering energy and fuel prices are on the rise, this suggests many Brits are planning to tighten their purse strings to avoid a hard pinch. So while we’re all looking forward to the festive period, here are some simple tips to make the most of your Christmas without breaking the bank:
  • Agree a price limit on gifts with family and friends.
  • This was the most popular Christmas money-saving hack over the past 2 years, according to our research. An easy idea that is likely to come as a relief to others when you suggest it.

  • Give an experience as a present
  • A Christmas gift doesn’t need to be an item that you buy for someone. Why not think of something that would brighten someone’s day that doesn’t involve reaching deep into your wallet? It could be as simple as breakfast in bed, planning a nice walk or making something.

  • Christmas entertainment
  • If you want to broaden your TV show horizons this Christmas, make use of 1-month free trials from the likes of Amazon Prime and hayu. Put the date in your diary before the trial ends to review or cancel it so you don’t default into a subscription you may not want.

Methodology

  • Finder commissioned Censuswide on 12–17 November 2021 to carry out a nationally representative survey of adults aged 18+. A total of 2,000 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region.
  • Reemul Balla, shopping expert (UK) at finder.com, is available for further comment, opinions or interview regarding the research.
  • For all media enquiries, please contact

    Matt Mckenna
    UK communications manager
    T: +44 20 3828 1338
    matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

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