How Does the UK Spend Christmas?

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The UK’s Christmas Capitals

For a country that gave the world the Christmas pudding, Dr Who specials, Brussels sprouts and paper crowns, it’s pretty safe to say that Britons love Christmas. In fact, to put it into numbers, 93% of Brits say they enjoy Christmas, according to the Experian Christmas Spending survey. Our research also found that the average person will spend £923 on food, drinks and presents this year – a whopping £123 increase on 2015¹.

So how are people splashing out this Christmas? Are people feeling excessively generous or are they sneaking presents and treats for themselves? We crawled through the data to see exactly how different cities are planning to celebrate Christmas this year.

¹ In 2015 the Money Advice Trust found that the

Festive Feasting

Forget the North/South divide – if you’re looking for a lavish meal this Christmas you need to head to the eastern side of the UK. London, the South East, Tyne and Wear and East Anglia all appear in the top 10 spenders on food in this year’s data.

It also seems that the UK is deeply divided when it comes to our favourite Christmas nibble. When it comes to sweet snacks The North East really has a sweet tooth. On average, they spend more than anyone on Christmas cake and chocolate. Tyne and Wear also loves its mince pies, with the average person spending almost £20 on the little beauties. Just across the border, Scotland doesn’t seem so keen. The average Glaswegian only spends £14.25 on mince pies. Cheese is also another divider, with people in Leicester shelling out £21.18 for a decent cheese board while those in Nottingham spend £17.18.

However, looking at the other end of the spectrum, those in West Yorkshire have a different story to tell. The cities of Bradford and Wakefield spend the least in the country on food for Christmas, with Wakefield coming near the bottom for almost every category and Bradford spending the least on chocolate in the whole country.

’Tis the Season to be Jolly

As well as a good spread, most Brits are fond of a few drams to wash down the mince pies. The average person in the UK will spend £53 on bolstering their drinks cabinets this year, split evenly between wine and spirits.

As with food, the country is roughly divided between a merry east and a more sober west, with London, Edinburgh and Coventry being among the biggest spenders on alcohol. Liverpool bucks the trend, spending almost £60 on booze including an average of £30 on spirits. Indeed, The North West in general seems to prefer spirits over the festive period, while Edinburgh and London seem to shell out the most on wine.

The people of Wales and the South West come in considerably lower on their Christmas alcohol spend. On average, Cardiff inhabitants will part with £43 on drink this year, almost £10 below the national average. Bristolians come closely behind with a spend of £46.

A Season of Giving?

On average we spend around £400 on gifts, buying presents for just under 10 people each. While men tend to spend more than women on things like eating out and decorations, women appear to be the more generous sex, spending around £50 more on gifts and £10 less on themselves.

To find the most generous people in the UK, you should look slightly north of the Clyde. The people of Glasgow have fully embraced the spirit of giving, spending almost a £100 more than the national average on gifts. On the other end of the scale, it’s those in Nottingham, the city of heroic outlaw Robin Hood,that spend the least on presents at Christmas with an average spend of £305, more than £50 below the UK average. In fact, the people of Notts will spend the least across the UK, coming near the bottom for almost every category we collected data on.

Londoners are also a little more cautious when it comes to spending money on others. Not only does the capital also spend almost £100 less than the national average on presents, they also tend to pamper themselves more.

Leicester – 2016's Capital of Christmas

So where in the UK is the best place to celebrate Christmas? Well, Leicester certainly seems up for splashing the cash this year. Yes, on top finding a medieval king in the car park of a council building and winning a remarkable Premier League title back in May, the East Midland city is currently preparing itself for the mother of all Christmas blow-outs!

Having looked at the data, Leicester comes close to the top of almost every category. Not only are residents spending a whopping £153 on food, the highest spenders in the UK outside of London, they have also appeared in the top 3 for every single food spend that we gathered data on. What’s more, the East Midlanders spend more on alcohol than anyone else in Britain, laying out £65 per head, £12 more than the national average. In fact, the only category Leicester didn’t come top of in our data was presents, although even then, they managed an above-average spend of £448.

Preparing for the Hangover

One thing is for sure, Britain is going to face one hell of a financial hangover from Christmas 2016. Our research shows that 14% of people will do their shopping on credit cards and more than a quarter (27%) struggle to stick to festive budgets. What’s more, our studies show that the average Briton takes over three months to pay off their festive debts with one in seven still feeling the effects of their Christmas splurge in June.

However, our survey also showed that people who regularly checked their credit scores are better able to control their overspending. Using a product like Experian CreditMatcher could help you keep control of your finances and find great deals you’re more likely to be accepted for. Our research shows that those who check their credit scores are statistically more likely to enjoy Christmas, so go on, check your Experian Credit Score and have a very Merry Christmas.


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