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We’re a nation of festive financiers

Two women look at a shop window.

Forget Jingle bells, cash tills are going to be ringing up and down the country this festive season, as Brits have been saving to spend £35 billion this Christmas, according to our latest research. Christmas 2019 is the one Brits budgeted for, with 67% having a specific yuletide budget.  

Forward financial planning for the festivities runs deep in the UK, with Christmas saving starting in January for one in five Brits (22 per cent). And millennials show they are the savviest seasonal savers, with 81 per cent of 18-34 year olds having a specific savings pot for Christmas, compared to 63 per cent of 35-44 year olds and 54 per cent of over 55s. Furthermore, over a third of millennials (35 per cent) have started saving earlier this year compared to previous years.  

Zopa has found that Brits have saved up to spend an average of £744 per person this Christmas, with almost half of it (£354) purely on presents. The generosity continues as Brits plan to spend £115 on Christmas food, £90 on Christmas nights out, £81 hosting friends and family at home, plus £60 on clothes to wear over the festive period and £45 on Christmas decorations.  

However more than half (51 per cent) of UK adults admit that they are planning on spending less this year than in previous years. Further bucking the notion that they can be irresponsible with money, those aged 18-34 are most likely to cut back this Christmas (64 per cent), compared to 54 per cent of 35-54 year olds and 40 per cent of the over 55s, perhaps not so surprising due to relative income levels across the age groups.  

There are also distinct differences between men and women when it comes to preparation; men tend to adopt a more fast and furious approach to saving – saving more (an average of £284 per month) over less time (108 days). Women, however, take a rather more organised, slow and steady style, spreading the cost over 132 days and saving an average of £105 a month. The difference is echoed when it comes to Christmas shopping too, with men found to be twice as likely than women to leave Christmas shopping until December (32 per cent vs 16 per cent).  

While Brits are shown to be keen savers throughout the year and 68 per cent set a budget, 31 per cent of people that make a budget admit they go over it. The most common reasons for doing so were found to be buying gifts that are too expensive (41 per cent) or indulging in food and drink (38 per cent).  

With Brits saving a significant amount of money to help fund the most feelgood time of the year and two thirds creating a plan and budget, Zopa has identified the specific types of Christmas saver: 

  1. Yuletide Yearners – people that save all year round or start in January (22 per cent) 
  2. Easter Bunnies – those that start saving once the celebrations of the Easter period are over (3 per cent)
  3. Summer Savers – those that put money away in June, July and August (7 per cent) 
  4. Festive Forecaster – those that have a clear budget and start budgeting once summer is over (Sep-Nov) (29 per cent) 
  5. December Dashers – those that wait until December to save (6 per cent) 
  6. Cavalier Christmasers – those that don’t save at all (33 per cent) 

The research also revealed that a quarter (24 per cent) of Brits wish they could manage their money better at Christmas, so Zopa has created a list of tips to help more Brits become Festive Financiers in 2020:   

  1. Avoid temptation – create a specific savings pot, set up a realistic amount that you can put into the pot each month and try your best to avoid the temptation to use it on other expenses such as summer holidays, when Christmas can seem like a long way away 
  2. Declutter – is there anything that has been lying around unused since last Christmas? If so, sell it! 
  3. Budget – it is easier to work out what you can afford when you write out your other expenses and make a budget for each person you would like to buy for 
  4. Year-round planning – keep an eye out for deals throughout the year that could make great presents 
  5. Travel – Brits rack up a lot of miles visiting family over the Christmas period. Book trains or flights in advance, to save money and spread the cost out 
  6. Lists – make a list and check it twice – it can be easy to overindulge at Christmas, but write out a list of what is essential and try not to get tempted by add-ons 
  7. Christmas clothes – people were found to spend £60 on new outfits so check the back of your wardrobe first for any forgotten clothes that could work for your festive occasions  
  8. Don’t panic – it is easy to get carried away at Christmas. If you get into debt, shop around for low interest loan products that can help you consolidate debts and ensure they are manageable in the new year. If you do shop around, make sure that you go to providers that only do an initial soft search rather than marking your credit file  

Clare Gambardella, Chief Customer Officer at Zopa said: “Christmas is the most feelgood time of the year but this comes alongside high spend on gifts, food and entertainment. Having a budget going into Christmas and a clear savings plan may not sound very festive but it can make you feel a lot more in control, and of course, avoid a festive financial hangover.”  

Zopa provides simple and fair loans between £1,000 to £25,000 for a variety of purposes – including debt consolidation. Its rates are among the lowest in the market and takes just 3 minutes to find a personalised rate. Zopa also shows customers the actual rate they’ll be offered prior to applying and won’t leave a mark on their credit file. (Representative APR 9.9%). 

About the research: 

Research amongst 2,001 UK adults that celebrate Christmas, conducted from the 4th – 5th of November 2019. 

  • Based on UK population figure (52,383,000). 91% (47,144,700) celebrate Christmas, spending an average of £744. Total spending £35,075,656,800 
  • Based on UK population figure (52,383,000). 91% (47,144,700) celebrate Christmas, saving an average £419.72. Total saving £19,787,573,484. 
  • £35,075,656,800 (spend) – £19,787,573,484 (savings) = £15,288,083,316 (£15.28 billion)