The increasing cost of Christmas

25% of people say they can’t afford the Christmas they want in 2022, double the number from 2021.

The cost of Christmas is up by around 20% in 2022, and almost 40% say the cost of Christmas makes the event too stressful, but despite these woes, 70% say that ‘cancelling Christmas is not an option’.

These are some findings from a recent YouGov survey and in this post I consider how all of this might be relevant to sociology!

How much does the average person spend on Christmas…?

The average person in Britain plans to spend £642 on Christmas in 2022, which is down only slightly on 2021 when the average person spent £670. (These are Mean, not median averages).

However given inflation, people will be getting a lot less for their money this year even though the reduction in raw expenditure isn’t that significant!. According to The Guardian the cost of our various Christmas expenditures – mainly presents, food and, for some, travel have risen by more than 20% this year compared to 2021….

This basically means everyone’s going to be having one less slice of turkey, maybe a couple of less potatoes, and, worst of all, fewer pigs in blankets (yes, things really are THAT bad!)

25% of people can’t afford the Christmas they want

Given that the cost of Christmas has risen sharply it’s not surprising that the number of people saying they cannot afford the Christmas they want has doubled to 25%.

This proportion sounds about right based on the poverty stats: about 20% of the UK population are in relative poverty and I imagine most of the people responding positively to that question are going to come from this 20%.

Of course not all of them will, several people on low incomes budget for Christmas by saving all year round, and some of those responses will be more middle-income families having to cut down on their usual more affluent Christmas.

I do find it interesting that 75% are happy enough with their finances to be able to afford the Christmas they want, suggesting that people aren’t that sucked into the consumerist hype – the average figure of £650 seems to be adequate.

Maybe that’s a fail for the Christmas hype-machine, further suggesting that people aren’t as passive as you might think?!?

40% say Christmas is too Stressful

This is depressing – a significant minority of the population find the event too stressful because of the money…

This means that maybe that the veneer of Christmas is something of a lie, while underneath at the micro-level there’s a lot of suffering going on.

Value Consensus around Christmas?

Besides the increasing cost of Christmas and the increasing numbers of people feeling stressed about it and going into debt to fund it, nearly 70% of Britons say that ‘cancelling Christmas is not an option’

And it’s very rare these days that you get that many people to agree on anything, and so celebrating Christmas is maybe one of the few points of value consensus that we have.

Or is this value consensus at the level of society? Christmas is one of the few periods of the year where we all get to retreat from the world of work and society and spend some time with our families, so maybe here Britain is saying ‘we value being able to retreat to our private households’, so one could interpret this as being anti-social.

Signposting

This is really just a bit of annual Christmas fun with statistics!

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