Christmas Shopping Unwrapped: Brits Set to Spend £60 Billion This Festive Season


Annual Study: People Splashing Our More on Festive Experiences in 2018

  • Brits will spend just over  £1,200 each filling up their shopping sleighs 
  • Gifts are the biggest expenditure with each shopper spending an average £295
  • 23% of Brits say their partner is the hardest person to buy for
November 13, 2018
London, United Kingdom

It’s not just jingle bells that will be ringing this Christmas but shopping tills too as new research from American Express* (NYSE: AXP) reveals the cost of Christmas. Brits are set to spend an average of £1,206 on everything from tinsel to turkey this year, a Santa-sized £60 billion across the nation**.

Gifts are the top spend items and even though there’s no place like home for Christmas, travel is still on the mind of the nation as many plan getaways abroad or in the UK. Festive experiences are growing in popularity as Brits splash out £84 this season versus £60 last year on days out like ice skating or visiting Santa’s Grotto.


Brits’ Christmas wish list
Average cost £
Christmas getaways outside the UK
Christmas getaways in the UK
Hosting parties (e.g. buying food, drink)
Festive experiences (e.g. ice skating, Santa’s Grotto)
Gatherings with family and friends outside the home
Food shopping for Christmas Day
New clothes
Travel (train, coach etc. tickets for visiting family and friends)
Christmas decorations for the home


However, despite the festive cheer it seems to be the year of savvy Santas, with Brits spending £345 less overall than in 2017, when total spend was £76 billion***. A quarter (25%) will redeem cashback, rewards and points accrued over the year to lessen the load on their shopping sleigh, and 23% take advantage of retailer offers such as promotions and early sales.

Despite adverts and shop fronts brimming with gift ideas, finding that perfect present can be tough. The hardest person to buy for is a partner, with nearly a quarter (23%) of Brits saying their other half is trickiest to treat at Christmas time.

The main reason people struggle to find the right gift is because their partners already have everything, according to just over half of shoppers (56%). Over a third (35%) say their partners are ‘picky’ and 22% say they are difficult to impress.

Furthermore, one in six say their parents are difficult to buy for, and one in ten (10%) find it tough choosing presents for their children.

Stephen Steinhardt, Director at American Express, says: “Whether it’s taking time to choose the perfect gift, or deciding where to take a trip to escape the chill, it’s wise to plan your spending for this busy time. By using a credit card that earns rewards or cashback you can get something back on your purchases and treat yourself to something special next year.”

Think about last year – Cast your mind back to last year and remember where you got your best bargains. Check what retailers are offering this year and make sure you sign up to newsletters to make the most of introductory offers and receive early sales alerts.

Points pay off – Take heed from 25% of shoppers in the UK who make the most of their earned points and cash them in at Christmas. Before you start shopping, see what you have stored up in store or loyalty points, and decide where they’ll be best used.

Set reminders – Schedule reminders on your phone for when you have to pick up parcels or food packages. There’s nothing worse than a last minute dash to the shops before they close, and nobody wants a Christmas dinner without those essential treats.

Many hands make light work – Ask your children or young family members to join you on a trip to the shops. With many stores kitting out their windows with extravagant displays, it can double up as a day out spotting the best ones and enjoying the free entertainment laid on in many stores.

Check your coupons and offers – Before heading to the shops go through the coupons and vouchers that stores give for your next purchase and organise your shopping trip accordingly. If you have an Amex card, check your offers on the Amex app and save the ones you think you will use to your card.

American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on,,,, and

Key links to products, services and corporate responsibility information: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, merchant services, Accertify, InAuth, corporate card, business travel, and corporate responsibility.

*Omnibus research was conducted by Opinium. 2,004 UK adults were surveyed between 12th and 17th October 2018.

**There are 52,078,525 adults currently living in the UK (ONS). UK adults spend an average of £1,206 on Christmas shopping. 97% of UK adults are celebrating Christmas in 2018. So £1,206 x 50,516,169.25 = £60,922,500,115.50

*** Omnibus research was conducted by Opinium, 2004 adults were surveyed between 13th and 18th October 2017.  51,767,543 UK adults living in the UK (ONS), 95% of which are celebrating Christmas in 2017 = 49,179,166 x £1550.91 = £76,272,460,341.06

Media Contact

Parmjit K. Dhillon
+44 (0) 1273-216-674

About American Express

American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at, and connect with us on,,,, and

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