Savvy shopping will allow more than seven in 10 to afford Christmas this year

December 14, 2011 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
With Christmas Day only 18 days away, and gift buying in full swing, research from Halifax reveals the average person in the UK plans to spend £319.61 on gifts for loved ones, shelling out nearly £37 on each person.

On average, women in the UK expect to buy for 10 people this Christmas, whereas, men will only give gifts to seven people. Those aged 18 to 24 are planning to only give gifts to seven people on average where those aged 35 to 44 are more generous, planning to spend money on nine people. Across the regions, Londoners will be buying the least number of gifts (7.45 on average), while those in Yorkshire & the Humber will buy for ten (10.13).

Those in the North East will be the most generous in the country, with the average amount they expect to spend on gifts totalling £469.15. Those in the South West are looking to spend the least this year with £232.78 in total.

Budgeting for Christmas presents
Only 14% of those who buy Christmas presents, save a bit of money each week throughout the year to cover the costs and 19% save in the months leading up to Christmas. The majority of consumers (52%) do not save for Christmas in any way, spending what they can afford at the time. One in 10 (10%) use their credit card and pay the money back at a later date.

Gift buyers in Wales, North East and Yorkshire & the Humber (all 19%) and those aged between 35 to 54 are savviest at saving for Christmas throughout the year, however, those in the East of England (61%) and aged between 18 to 24 (59%) just spend what they can at the time. Londoners who purchase presents (13%) and those aged 45 to 54 (12%) are most likely to use their credit cards.

Encouragingly, 71% of people who purchase gifts definitely have the money or vouchers available to pay for all of their Christmas presents, with those in the South West (78%) and aged 55 and above (81%) having this capacity, while 9% are unsure at the moment. Some people will find it difficult to afford this Christmas, however. More than a quarter (26%) of Scots who buy gifts and nearly three in 10 (29%) aged between 25 to 34 will have to borrow money or will go overdrawn to afford Christmas presents for friends and family.

Thrifty gifters
To ease the financial burden of Christmas, more than half of UK consumers (54%) take advantage of sales, multi buy promotions, vouchers or sales when buying Christmas presents every or most years with those in the West Midlands (64%) and 25 to 34 year olds (63%) most likely.

Making Christmas presents is not a popular option with 53% who give gifts never taking this option specifically in order to save money and only 4% of consumers electing to do this every year. Interestingly, more than six in 10 (63%) 18 to 24 year olds have made their own Christmas present at some point solely to save money.

Amount spent this Christmas compared to previous years
Despite the financial uncertainty of recent years, only 31% of Christmas shoppers have decreased the amount spent on Christmas presents compared to five years ago, 27% have spent the same and 32% have increased the amount they buy.

Those who have decreased their Christmas spend have done so by an average of £210.98 with those aged 35 to 44 leading the trend with an average reduction of£255.91. Amongst those who have increased their spend, Scotland has the highest average rise compared to five years ago spending £194.29 more, against the UK average of £141.81.

In spite of many consumers who buy gifts not making any changes to their Christmas spending habits, 59% have set a monetary limit with some or all of their friends and family on Christmas gifts. Only 11% of these buyers had increased the limit since last year (11%), 50% had stayed the same and 30% decreased the limit. Those who had increased their limit did so by an average of £28.73 per person and there was an average reduction of £44.40 by those who had decreased their gift limits.

Rob Wood, Head of Halifax Savings says:
"Christmas can be a tough time financially for families and advanced planning and saving is the best way to ensure there is enough money to go around for all the extra costs.

"Many families are ensuring they get value for money when by gifts through the use of vouchers, sales or even making their own Christmas presents. This will see their hard-earned savings being able to take them through the holiday period without getting into debt."