How much are people spending for Christmas 2021?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
December 09, 2021, 10:40 AM GMT+0

More Britons say they won’t cancel the festive season this year than in 2020

The government has announced plans to implement some measures of their “plan B” pandemic restrictions - including a suggestion workers return to home working where possible. This comes following assurances from the Prime Minister that this Christmas will be “considerably” better than last year.

Britons are certainly expecting a better festive season, as YouGov’s annual Christmas spending tracker reveals the public plan on spending more over Christmas this year than in 2020, especially on travel and socialising.

How much are people going to spend for Christmas 2021?

Britons’ total spending across our six categories of Christmas spending has risen for 2021, with the average person expecting to spend £1,108 during the festive season. This represents a rise of over £200 versus the average spend in 2020 (£883). Women say they will have a slightly higher average spend (£1,138) compared to men (£1,079).

The biggest expense for Britons this year, as in previous years, will be presents and gifts. Of those purchasing gifts, the average spend will set them back £388 – down £20 from £408 last year. Britons aged between 45 and 54 are expecting the biggest average present bill (£453) compared to a £334 spend from those aged between 25 and 34. Women are also expecting to spend more on average on their presents (£405) than men (£365).

Hotel stays make up the second biggest bill on average at £197, rising over £100 compared to last year (£87). This rise will of course be a result of expectations that this Christmas will be subject to fewer pandemic restrictions than last year’s. The prospect of fewer restrictions is also likely to be behind the increased spending Britons are planning for travel (£153, up £79 versus 2020) and social events (£130, up £56).

Women are expecting to spend more on average on travel (£171) and hotel stays (£220) during the festive season versus men (£135 and £169 respectively).

Elsewhere Britons expect to spend around the same on food and drink this year (£154) as they were in 2020 (£156). The average spend on new clothes (£85) also remains virtually the same as 2020 (£86).

Will people spend more than they can afford at Christmas, and how will they fund it?

An average cost of £1,108 is no small bill, so will Britons be spending beyond their means this Christmas? Some 14% of the general population expect their level of debt to increase over the festive break.

However, among those with money troubles, Christmas will take a toll. Among financially distressed Britons (those struggling to keep up with financial commitments or worried they’re going to fall behind) nearly two in five (38%) say their debt will get worse over Christmas. A similar proportion say their debt will remain around the same (32%). One in ten (10%) do say their debt will likely decrease.

Half of over-indebted Britons (those three months behind on their bills/financial commitments or more in the last six months) say their debt will worsen as a result of Christmas. Looking at present shopping specifically, one in five members of the public say they will use some form of credit or borrowing to fund their gift purchases, rising to two in five (44%) of those who are financially distressed, and half (51%) of Britons over-indebted.

This includes some 15% of Britons who plan to make gift purchases on credit cards specifically – but credit is a more popular option among the financially distressed (22%) and over-indebted (15%). Just 5% of people say they will use instalment schemes to get their presents – higher among financially distressed people (12%) and those who are over-indebted (21%).

Four in ten people (42%) say they will dip into their existing savings to purchase presents, compared to only 26% of financially distressed people, and 17% of people who are over-indebted.

Likewise, while another 31% of the public have saved up specifically to pay for gifts, fewer financially distressed people (24%) and over-indebted Britons (20%) have managed to do so.

Britons say cancelling Christmas is not an option

Following last year’s festive lockdown, most Britons say they are not willing to cancel their Christmas this time around. Some six in ten people say cancelling Christmas is not an option (60%), up 13pts from less than half who said the same in 2020 (47%). Despite their money woes, among financially distressed and over-indebted Britons the desire not to cancel Christmas remains strong (59% and 65% respectively). Further to this, some two in five Britons (43%) agree they are willing to do whatever they can to have the Christmas they want this year – an increase of 11pts on 2020.

In pursuit of the Christmas they want, a third of the public (37%) think they will probably spend more than they should – compared to 29% who said this last year. This year’s figure is still lower, however, than it was in December 2019 prior to the pandemic (43%).

Among over-indebted Britons, half (52%) say they will spend more than they should. A similar percentage of over-indebted Britons (54%) say that they will avoid paying at least some of their debts to help pay for their Christmas spending, compared to only 6% of the general population.

However, another 52% of over-indebted Britons also agree that they will ultimately struggle to have the Christmas they want as they will not be able to afford it, as will 45% of financially distressed Britons.

Ultimately, financial struggles will make it harder to enjoy Christmas for the 16% of Brits who worry about how much it costs them. A quarter of Britons (27%) also agree that the cost of Christmas makes it too stressful.

For Britons with money trouble, these woes are even more widespread. Some 48% of those financially distressed Britons and 53% of over-indebted people say they struggle to enjoy Christmas as they are worried about how much they are spending. Another 59% and 65% respectively say the festive period is made too stressful by the cost.

This data previously appeared on the BBC

See full results for 2021 here

See results for 2020 here