One in five UK consumers will buy Christmas presents for people who have helped them this year

  • Research by Virgin Experience Days shows 22% of UK consumers will buy gifts to thank people for help this year
  • 81% of respondents agree Christmas will take on a different meaning for them this year
  • Over two thirds expect friends and family to spend less on them this Christmas, but 16-24 year olds in particular are planning to spend more

81% of UK consumers agree Christmas will take on a different meaning for them this year according to research by Virgin Experience Days, a provider of gift experiences. The survey canvassed 2,750 respondents and analyses changing perceptions around meaning, spending and gift choices this Christmas.

A new meaning for Christmas

One of the key findings of the research was that UK consumers want to buy gifts for different people this year. One in five (22%) plan to gift people who have helped them during an unprecedented year of challenges as a result of the pandemic.

Women and 16-24 year olds were most likely to agree that Christmas will take on a different meaning this year, a view least supported by men and the 35-45 year old age group. Almost half (48%) of consumers will recognise this by making family a greater focus and 40% plan to make up for time spent apart, making this Christmas extra special.

A further 45% believe there’s a need to spread joy and to show people they care, highlighting how thoughtful gifting and togetherness will become key themes for consumers at the end of a tough year. 

Expectation vs reality

The research also reveals that consumers are likely to be pleasantly surprised by the amount of generosity shown through gifting this Christmas.

Over two thirds of survey respondents (69%) expect others to spend less on gifts for them this Christmas and 65% expect fewer presents under the tree for them. Those aged over 45 are most likely to agree. In contrast, 16-24 year olds are most likely to expect more or the same amount of spend on gifts for them this Christmas.

But despite a gloomy economic outlook, UK consumers’ willingness to gift this Christmas remains largely undeterred. 81% will spend the same amount or more on Christmas presents this year compared to previous years – including more than fifth (22%) who plan to increase spend on gifts.

Brits craving normality

The results suggest a desire and willingness among British consumers to create a Christmas as close to normal as possible. Over two thirds (69%) plan to buy as many or more presents for their nearest and dearest, with 16-24 year olds the age group most likely to buy more or the same amount of presents, and those over 55 least likely to agree.

Consumers also indicated mass fatigue with video calls, with almost half (47%) replying that they hope they won’t have to open gifts over Zoom this Christmas. Although almost a fifth (18%) openly accept this is likely. 

Richard Hurd-Wood, CEO of Virgin Experience Days, comments:

Christmas 2020 will be a Christmas like no other for many reasons but UK consumers are set to continue gifting and in some cases more generously than in previous years! Despite the financial difficulties many are facing, UK consumers seem willing to defy the odds and maintain or increase their spend this year including 22% who intend to gift people who have helped them. This is also great news for the many businesses big and small up the country who rely on Christmas for trade.  

“Throughout the year, we have seen consumers’ eagerness to shop again and enjoy the nation’s wonderful hospitality, leisure and retail sectors following the loosening of social restrictions earlier in the summer. Despite a return to lockdown, our suppliers across all these industries continue to enjoy strong sales during key gifting periods with many understanding the growing importance of ecommerce.

“This gives hope that although Christmas 2020 may be different this year, and consumer priorities may be changing due to the ongoing uncertainty, people still intend to celebrate and show they care with thoughtful gifts.”

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