What you really spend your money on at Christmas

Christmas presents make up just one part of the big festive spend (Design Pics Inc/REX/Shutterstock)
Christmas presents make up just one part of the big festive spend (Design Pics Inc/REX/Shutterstock)

From presents and Christmas dinner to entertaining friends and family, the festive season now costs an eye-watering amount for many. But how much cash do we actually spend? In 2017, Brits will shell out a staggering £78.69 billion during the Christmas period, up 1.4 per cent on 2016, according to research by VoucherCodes and the Centre of Retail Research.

And the average family is set to splash out a wallet-lightening £821.25 this Christmas, 1.3 per cent up from last year’s £809.97. With wages stagnant and prices going up, shoppers are increasingly turning away from the high street and shopping around. For every £5 spent over Christmas, £2 of it will be spent online, according to Visa. But where does all that money go? From festive gifts to the Christmas feast, here’s how Christmas spending is shaping up in 2017…


One of the biggest outlays over Christmas is buying presents for loved ones and Brits are planning to spend an average of £380 on gifts this year, according to research from safe.co.uk. Beauty and toiletries will be the most popular gift choice for shoppers, according to Statista research from HotUKDeals. While the actual December figures aren’t in yet, beauty gifts in November this year cost 10% less than they did at Christmas last year, according to figures supplied to Yahoo News UK by MySupermarket. The 2016 price of £12.70 dropped to £11.39 this year, which is good news for all those early bird shoppers.

Shopping for toys could prove to me more expensive this year (Isopix/REX/Shutterstock)
Shopping for toys could prove to me more expensive this year (Isopix/REX/Shutterstock)

However, for those shopping for kids, the news isn’t so good. The average price of the toy category was a massive 32% more expensive in November 2017 than it was at Christmas last year, going up from £14.92 to £19.67. And shopping for chocolate-based gifts could also prove costly, with the price of Terry’s Chocolate Orange almost doubling in price for Sainsbury’s shoppers this year, according to research from The Grocer. And many more choc gifts have been hit by ‘shrinkflation’. For example, Morrisons is selling a 680g tub instead of last year’s 750g tub, for the same price of £4.72, says The Grocer.


Transforming your house into a winter wonderland doesn’t come cheap, once you’ve picked up a tree and all the extra twinkly trinkets to go with it. In fact, the cost of giving the house a festive makeover has gone up by a significant 6.9 per cent since last year, says VoucherCodes, with an average spend of £31.20 per household in 2017, compared to £29.10 in 2016.

However, Christmas trees (the real ones) are one of the few things that have dropped in price over the past few decades, with no major price changes expected this year. “We expect prices to be very similar to last year,” said Harry Brightwell, secretary of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, in a recent post from the group. In 2017, a 6-foot tree costs around £20, but back in 1977 it would have cost a whopping £211 in today’s money, according to data collated by interiors retailer Hillary’s.

Some people spend significantly more than their neighbours on decorating the house for Christmas (Sipa USA/REX/Shutterstock)
Some people spend significantly more than their neighbours on decorating the house for Christmas (Sipa USA/REX/Shutterstock)

Xmas dinner

Bringing home a turkey big enough to see the family through until new year, along with enough parsnips and Brussels sprouts to feed an army can be pricey, but the good news is that shopping around could save you cash this year. In fact, the same basket of Christmas goodies is 8% cheaper in Waitrose this year and 1% cheaper in both Morrisons and Sainsbury’s compared to 2016, according to comparison figures collated for Yahoo News UK by MySupermarket. However the same batch is 7% more expensive in Asda this year compared to 2016 and 4% more expensive in Tesco. The biggest price change comes from Brussel sprouts, which are a massive 30% cheaper than last year in Asda, down from £1 to 70p. However, in the same store, Christmas cake has gone up from £6 to £7, while the cost of Christmas pudding has risen from £3.50 to £4.

The good news for those on a budget is that Co-op is selling a Turkey and Trimmings box for just £12, containing turkey, bacon, pigs in blankets, stuffing, gravy and cranberry compote. It’s designed to serve two and cooks in just 50 minutes but you’ll have to supply your own veg.

Going out

Meeting up with friends from school, former work colleagues, university pals and even the office work do, can take a heavy toll on your bank account over the festive season, and it’s not getting any better. The average price of a pint of bitter in pubs went up by six pence since 2016, from £2.99 to £3.05, according to the latest stats from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). And the price of a pint of lager rose by even more, with a 10p increase from £3.48, to an eye-watering £3.58 in 2017. And of course, that’s the average for the entire country. For those that live in London and other large cities, the price could easily be nearly double that. At these prices, it’s no wonder younger generations can no longer afford to get a round in.


The good news is that Prosecco prices have stayed the same since last year in most of the major supermarkets, according to MySupermarket data. Only in Asda has the price gone up by a pound since 2016 from £8.98 to £9.98. Fancy crisps are also more expensive in Asda this year, with the price for Kettle Chips going up from £1.42 to £1.64, while staying pretty much the same in all the other supermarkets, rising by just 1p in Waitrose.

And for the all-important mince pies, it’s definitely worth shopping around. Six mince pies from Tesco have gone up my a massive 12 per cent since last year, from 89p to £1. They’ve also gone up in Sainsbury’s from £1 to £1.10. Meanwhile, Morrisons and Waitrose and kept prices the same, while Asda has cut the cost slightly from 2016, dropping the price from 91p to 89p.

Travelling to see family/friends

Whether it’s filling up the car to crawl along the motorway or braving public transport to get home in time for the turkey, travel can make up a large portion of your festive spending. And the bad news is that Christmas travel spending will be hit by the biggest increase this year, increasing by 7.2 per cent from £83.43 in 2016 to £89.52 for the average household in 2017, according to VoucherCodes. Not only have public transport fares gone up this year, the price of petrol has also risen from 115.5p per litre in December 2016 to 119.9p at the beginning of December 2017.