Back to January 2019

A quarter of people don’t save for the cost of Christmas - and the ones who rely on credit could be paying all year long

Christmas may be an expensive time of year but new research by Leeds Building Society found nearly a quarter of people in the UK who celebrate the festive season (24%) don’t save ahead for it at all.

Conversely, 15% of those surveyed start saving in January although 39% tend to leave it much later and start putting money away from September onwards.

As part of its ongoing efforts to understand the savings habits and attitudes of UK adults, the Society ran a national YouGov survey* to find out how far people who celebrate Christmas plan ahead.

Of those who save, respondents were split between early starters and the planners who begin organising gifts, festive food and get-togethers from autumn onwards.

Some are thinking about Christmas almost as soon as the cards and wrapping paper have been recycled and the decorations packed away again:

  • 2% start asking for gifts or dropping hints in January although most people wait until later in the year, with one in four (25%) placing requests come November.
  • An organised 7% start buying gifts in January but Christmas shopping peaks in November when almost a third (32%) buy their presents. Almost a quarter (24%) wait until December before hitting the shops.
  • 5% are deciding in October what to eat on Christmas Day, with 1% starting to think about this as early as September.
  • 4% of people put up their Christmas decorations in November.

The research found fewer than one in five (18%) had relied on credit to cover the cost of Christmas – however, the majority of those took more than a month to repay what they’d spent, risking interest and additional charges inflating the final bill.

Of the respondents who had used credit for Christmas spending, 71% % took up to six months to repay this, while 23% needed longer.

“It was good to see plenty of people start saving for Christmas in January,” said Matt Bartle, Leeds Building Society’s Director of Products.

“Similarly, it was positive that nearly three quarters (74%) of the people surveyed don’t take out credit to pay for Christmas. However, it was worrying that those who do use use credit can take months to pay it off, which will incur fees and could end up costing them a lot more.

“When there’s a big annual expenditure – whether that’s Christmas or a holiday – saving little and often helps to spread the cost to make it more manageable and it’s satisfying seeing your savings grow.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

* A nationally representative survey of 2,103 people conducted online by YouGov on behalf of Leeds Building Society in January 2019. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Leeds Building Society was named Best Building Society Savings Provider in the Moneyfacts Awards for 2018, having also won this title in 2017 and 2016.

The Society also won the title of Best Shared Ownership Mortgage Lender in the 2018 What Mortgage Awards, its third consecutive year of success in this category.

Leeds Building Society operates throughout the UK and in Gibraltar and has assets of £19.5bn at 30 June (£17.3bn at 30 June 2017). The Society’s head office has been based in the centre of Leeds since 1886.