Brace yourselves: tomorrow we'll be just 70 days away from Christmas. As 39% of Brits have already started their holiday shopping, research from VoucherCodes.co.uk and YouGov has found that household spending on Christmas has fallen for the second year in a row.
Their figures show that the expected overall Christmas spend this year will be 2% less than last year, totalling £780.28. Though this still seems like quite a sum, it is the lowest level seen since 2012, and a welcome drop from the £796.05 total of a year ago.
Just like last year, most of the decrease is down to reduced spending on food and drink, which is down from £159.34 in 2015 to an expected £151.74 this year, a change of -4.8%. The cost of cards and decorations is the only category that has gone up this year, with people planning to splurge 11.7% more on this to total £45.94, while gift spending is set to be down by 2.2% to stand at £582.60 per household.
Aside from spending less overall, people are also starting to shop early so they can spread the cost of Christmas over a few months. Given that the cost per household is equivalent to almost two months of the average adult's disposable income, this is a sensible precaution.
Some people are particularly organised: 23% started their festive shopping in September or earlier, and a whole 42% have been saving throughout the year to be able to afford Christmas. Meanwhile, 23% expect to have their festive shopping all wrapped up by 1 December, showing that there's a general atmosphere of preparedness in the air. Yet 9% of people confessed they will be making a last-minute dash on Christmas Eve to finish buying presents, showing that not everyone is taken in by the pre-Christmas shopping stress.
Apart from better planning and budgeting, plenty of people say they will take advantage of the major discount shopping days, with 22% planning to shop on Black Friday this year (up from 13% in 2015) and 17% planning to splash out on Cyber Monday (up by 7%). This is in line with the 49% of Brits who plan to shop online this Christmas.
Next to general online bargain-hunting, 29% of mobile-minded Brits are planning to make festive purchases on their smartphones. The findings further show that people are planning to combine the best of both worlds, with 19% looking to use mobile technology on-the-go by scoping out the best in-store deals and then comparing online to find the biggest bargain.
All these savvy shoppers safeguarding their wallets may be why less people are worried about the cost of Christmas this year, with only 22% expressing financial concern ahead of the holidays, down from 25% in 2015.
Claire Davenport, managing director at VoucherCodes.co.uk, commented on the findings: "Despite overall spending being very slightly down year-on-year, people appear to be getting savvier about their Christmas finances. By spreading the cost of purchases across autumn pay cheques and planning to take advantage of key sales dates, shoppers are getting the things they need for the festive season without relying heavily on borrowing.
"Technology is continuing to play an important role in helping Brits to maximise their bargain hunting, with many people using their smartphones to find the best deals on-the-go and shopping online to avoid the Christmas crowds. Brits who want to keep costs down as we move into festive shopping season should sign up to voucher site newsletters or download apps to receive the best offers so they don't miss out on a great deal."
It may seem too late to start saving now, but there's still time to open an easy access or monthly savings account that will let you rack up some interest by December – and at the very least putting this money in a dedicated pot will stop you spending it before you're ready.
Don't forget to check out our voucher section either, to see if you can nab a great deal for the holidays.
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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