christmas money shopping

How much money do we spend over Christmas?

Black Friday shopping is over in the U.K. and things are starting to wind down as we get ready to close the door on 2019. There’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's shaped like a Christmas turkey and too many mince pies. 

The nation is ready to put on their slippers, turn off their morning alarms, and spend more time with their families. If there’s one thing we know is true, it’s that we go big at Christmas. We start saying yes to that second portion, hello to opening another bottle of wine, and goodbye to the money in our wallets. 

So, how much money are we really spending over Christmas and what are we spending it on? The Bank of England found that the average U.K. household regularly spends at least £2,500 a month and spends around £3,300 over the holidays. 

We at SumUp wanted to get to the bottom of our spending habits, so we analysed the numbers to see just how much we’re eating, drinking and gifting. 

Here’s what we uncovered…

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Put your money where your mouth is

According to The Bank of England, food spending across the U.K. increases by 20% during the Christmas season. And that’s no surprise considering we eat an estimated 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone. If you think the main meal is the culprit, you’d be wrong. The Independent reported that:

“The average Brit will have eaten nearly a day’s worth of calories before even pulling a cracker and sitting down to the lunchtime festive feast.” 

If that seems like a lot, don’t worry – the study also found that this only takes an 8-hour run or a 21.5-hour stroll to walk off. Easy. 

By comparing a normal 2018 month to Christmas, we found an increase in spending of 28.9% at supermarkets, and that the average shopper spent £13,76. Interestingly enough, café and restaurant transactions were down 3.1%. The conclusion? We like to keep things traditional and cook at home. 

Average transactions at outdoor markets grew by 56.5%, most likely due to Christmas markets opening across the U.K. With an average transaction size of £26,80, it’s safe to assume people are getting in a couple of treats and mulled wines. 

Tis the season to be jolly

QI recently struck fear into the public when they revealed that one-third of employees will embarrass themselves at their Christmas office party. And no, it’s not because of their hideous seasonal jumper, it’s all because of alcohol. 

Over the holidays, spending on alcohol increases by 30%, and a study analysing over 2,000 people's Christmas traditions established that “More than a third of Brits will also have had their first festive tipple before midday, and 37% crack open a bottle every day of the festive week.” 

SumUp data found that bars and clubs tend to receive a few more visitors or thirstier guests in December with a 39.7% transaction increase and an average transaction of £12.69.

When secret Santa gets tough

Gifting – some people love taking the time to hand-pick gifts for their loved ones, others consider it a minefield. Luckily, there are a few classics we can always look to for inspiration. The Office for National Statistics writes that despite technology's growing role in our lives, “books, newspapers and periodicals” continue to be purchasing favourites. 

In fact, we love giving the gift of words so much that in 2017, newsagents and book stores alike sold over £633 million worth of products. SumUp newsagent merchants saw a transaction increase of 176.6% compared to the previous month.

Deloitte decided to do some investigating for themselves, and in their 2018 survey, they discovered that when looking at all European nations, the U.K. spends the most on gifts. 

As it turns out, our favourite things to gift depend on age: 

  • Adults will typically receive chocolates, books, cosmetics and perfume. 

  • Teenagers are most likely to get video games.

  • Children’s usually get books, arts and crafts, clothes, and shoes.

On the topic of gifts, Pete Benton, Director of Data at ONS, saw 2017 welcome some very festive babies into the world. 4 girls were named ‘Gift’, 166 named ‘Angel’, 37 were christened ‘Star’, and 5 were called ‘Merry’. For boys, Christmas brought along 967 ‘Gabriel’s’, 120 ‘Noel’s’ and 398 ‘Nicholas’s’.

All in all, it’s fair to say that with the holidays comes indulgence. But Christmas doesn’t need to be all about spending money. If you’re looking to save this season, consider a SumUp card reader, which has no fixed contract or subscription fees. 

Anna Marie Allgaier