Turning off the Christmas lights

New Which? research finds that two thirds of consumers (66%) are planning to cut back on Christmas spending this year.

The top ways people are cutting back are by buying cheaper Christmas food (25%), spending less on decorations (23%) and spending less on entertainment (22%) like going to pantomimes. One in ten people (11%) are even cutting back on the electricity they use for Christmas lights.

More than half of people (55%) say Christmas is financially tougher this year than last, showing that, despite our fledgling economic recovery, UK households continue to feel the strain of the rising cost of living. The findings resonate with the Which? Consumer Insight Tracker which shows that four in ten (37%) people are still feeling the squeeze and just one in six households (16%) think economic growth has had a positive impact on their standard of living.

The majority of Brits (93%) say people are under pressure to spend too much at Christmas, but times are still tough and around a third (36%) have cut back on other spending so they can afford to pay for Christmas.

The research also found that:

•Around a third (36%) of people say they will spend less this Christmas than last Christmas. •To save money, one in five people (20%) are entertaining at home rather than going out, and 17% are only buying presents for children, not adults. •Women are cutting back and feeling the strain more than men – women are more likely to say they plan to spend less (39% compared to 32%), and more likely to agree that Christmas is financially tougher than last year (59% compared to 51%). •Young people under 34 are likely to spend more on Christmas this year (27%) than people over 35 (15%).

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said:

“The Chancellor may say the hard work on the economy is paying off but he’s still got a tough battle ahead to convince people he’s improving living standards. For two years in a row many consumers say Christmas is financially tougher than the year before so it’s clear that families aren’t feeling the effects of recovery in their pockets.

“There’s little festive cheer when budgets continue to be stretched, especially when some families are spending less on Christmas food and decorations, and a few are even resorting to turning off their Christmas lights to save electricity.

“The best Christmas present that the Government can give consumers is a promise to get the cost of essential bills under control and put pressure on companies to give customers value for their hard earned money.”

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