Shopping, Spending and giving back

in Features

When do you start your Christmas shopping? Do you leave it to the last minute or are you an early bird shopper and how much do you spend?

The holiday season is undoubtedly the biggest shopping spending period in many countries around the world with the busiest shopping day of the year no longer being Black Friday but the Saturday before Christmas, and it’s not just for gifts, think about the decorations, cards and food.

Statistics from the World Economic Forum show that shoppers in the USA spent over $1 trillion and in the UK people spent over £2 billion last year, whilst in some countries one-fifth of people go into debt to pay for Christmas gifts and festivities.


Shopping habits seem to be equal across gender as well as many of the age ranges, but something that many of us wouldn’t think true is that men tend to spend more than women! Apparently UK males spend over £410 on presents, whilst women only fork out £373. When it comes to generations, Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980)spend the most, with Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964), spending the least.  


Who do we buy gifts for? Most of us will buy presents for our family members and some special friends, but do you also buy for your colleagues and co-workers? It makes sense that shoppers spend seven times more on family than on colleagues, but what about your pets? Do they make your Christmas shopping list? Nearly a third of dog owners have said they are likely to spend more on their pooch than their partner at Christmas, with men more likely to do so than women. 

Do you treat yourself at Christmas?  Seemingly many of us do with the average shopper spending over £100 on presents such as perfume or clothing for themselves whilst out and about doing their Christmas shopping.

What do you buy?

There is so much to choose from in the shops in the run up to Christmas, with everything from toys and clothes to perfumes and electrical goods on offer, but even with the vast range of options available, most gift purchases fall into one of these categories:

  • 61% of adults will purchase clothing and accessories
  • 30% of consumers will spend money on electronics
  • 20% of buyers will simply give cash as a gift
  • 56% of people will purchase gift cards
  • 44% will buy media items such as games, videos, books, or music
  • 42% of shoppers buy toys 

Are you one of those people who leave your Christmas shopping until the last minute? 12% of UK shoppers panic-buy, with chocolate being the number one gift for adults and books or money for teenagers.


Most of us overextend our finances at Christmas, either borrowing money or running up huge credit card bills. The pressure to spend more than we reasonably should is all around us but there are also those people who will spend with abandon,regardless of the consequences, despite the fact that we are experiencing hard economic times. 

Romania, along with the UK, are the places where one-fifth of people go into the red due to their Christmas spending. Luxembourg is the country where people are least likely to go into debt. 

In order of the percentage of monthly income spent at Christmas, the top six countries are: Romania 32%, Czechia 25%, United Kingdom 15%, United States 15%, Italy 12% and Spain12%.

Environmental Impact

More and more of us are thinking about the impact on the environment when buying gifts, with some people choosing to make their own. Regardless of this, and despite our best efforts, the environmental footprint is potentially significant.

So, should we buy real or artificial Christmas trees? There are some groups that say using an artificial tree reduces its environmental impact because we bring it out year after year and that if you buy a real Christmas tree that is not locally sourced, then the process of transporting it can ramp up a hefty carbon footprint. However, the Carbon Trust says that a real Christmas tree has a “significantly lower” carbon footprint than an artificial tree, particularly if it is disposed of in a sensible manner.

One way to have a lower impact Christmas is to buy local. Supporting local shops and buying locally-made gifts not only boosts the local economy but it will have a lower environmental impact. With less festive parties to attend and fewer people able to get together for Christmas lunch, it is a good opportunity to kick-start habits that you can carry over to ensure that you have a waste-free new year. 

Giving Back 

In the season of giving, this Christmas will be one that will see more people involved with the community and helping out through charitable actions, and whether that is through donating time or money why not think about how you can help someone whose spirits might need a little extra lift this holiday season.

Christmas 2020

Christmas is inextricably linked to the act of giving and receiving presents and although 2020 may mean that we will not be able to physically be with all of our loved ones on Christmas Day, and coronavirus restrictions may mean that we have to make changes to the way in which we do our Christmas shopping, we can still get into the holiday spirit and spread good cheer amongst others with thoughtful and unusual gifts.

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