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Four in 10 Brits scaled back Christmas spending despite money being most popular gift

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Kalila Sangster
·3-min read
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Close up of bauble and Christmas Tree decorations in a London city street
Three quarters of Brits said that restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic was the main reason for spending less over Christmas. Photo: Getty

Four in 10 Brits scaled back Christmas spending in 2020 despite money being the most popular gift to give to loved ones, according to new research by by Paragon Bank.

Despite this, one in three respondents gifted more cash to friends and family last Christmas than they did the year before, the survey of 2,600 people found.

Three quarters of Brits (75%) said that restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic was the main reason for spending less over Christmas.

Nearly one in four said they wanted to focus on smaller, thoughtful gifts for loved ones, while 43% agreed that they saved money by spending less in the time running up to Christmas.

Millennials made the biggest cuts to their festive spending, with 74% of 25- to 29-year-olds and 57% of 30- to 39-year-olds choosing a cheaper Christmas. This is “reflective that those demographics have been the most financially impacted by the pandemic,” according to Derek Sprawling, savings director at Paragon Bank.

READ MORE: Just one-third of UK workers received financial support after self-isolating

Money was the most popular present, with 37% more likely to choose to gift cash this year compared to last.

Experiences were the least popular gift option, with 82% avoiding giving presents such as spa breaks or gig tickets due to lockdowns and social distancing restrictions. Gift vouchers were also less popular in 2020, with 44% of savers more reluctant to gift those than before, in response to the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and the impact of the pandemic on the retail sector.

Some 16% did spend more last Christmas than they did the year before. Nearly half (45%) of those ended up spending more because they gave more expensive gifts than usual, while one in three (31%) dipped into savings made during the pandemic to boost their festive budget.

Four in 10 (41%) either bought local products or shopped at small independent businesses last Christmas, with COVID-19 helping community spirit to flourish as Brits sought to support their local communities.

Four-fifths (81%) of people surveyed opted to do more or most of their Christmas shopping online. One in four also did their festive food shop online, whereas they would usually have visited a supermarket.

READ MORE: Half of Brits rely on borrowing to get through January

“Lockdown restrictions, combined with the current economic climate, had a significant impact on people’s Christmas plans, which was reflected in lower Christmas spending than in previous years,” said Sprawling

“As we continue the third national lockdown, we anticipate that the saving trends noted throughout the pandemic will continue to be prevalent at least until the restrictions start to lift, with people putting pandemic savings aside and topping up their rainy day funds.”

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