Consumers will pay more for less this Christmas, economists have warned, getting less of a bang for their buck than the faint phutting of a puny, overpriced cracker being pulled.
Although Britons will spend more than in the belt-tightening 2022 festive season, the resultant fare won’t yet match the pre-pandemic Christmases past.
This year the average UK household will shell out £550 on festive goods and services, including food, alcohol, toys, games and clothing, according to data from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) – up £70 from last year.
However, in real terms, the value of that outlay will only be slightly better than 2022 – and consumers would have to spend another 20% more on top to get the kind of Christmas they enjoyed in 2019.
According to Cebr, an economic consultancy, the cost of Christmas is up nearly a quarter in three years.
Those looking to drown their sorrows through the cost-of-Christmas crisis will feel the pain even more, with the price of booze rising even faster than food in the last year. In an inflation-battered “festive basket”, the prices of classic gifts of clothing, toys and games have also soared.
Alcohol and tobacco only accounts for £26 in the average basket, with spending on drink expected to rise 26% this year.
Food is the biggest portion, accounting for an average £135, up about 23%. Average expenditure on toys, games, and clothing, is expected to go up by about 20% for Christmas 2023.
A whiff of consolation will come for those settling down to a traditional Christmas dinner, with the turkey and trimmings found to be only marginally more expensive this year.
Fierce competition between supermarkets over the headline cost of the staples means the average price of dinner for four is up only 1.3% this year to £31.71, according to research from Kantar last week – well below the 9.1% rate of general grocery inflation recorded last month.
The cost-conscious can pile on the brussels sprouts, now 4.3% cheaper than in December 2022 – but should fish out last year’s cranberry sauce from the back of the fridge, or pay a whopping 26.5% for a new jar.
Overall, Christmas spending is forecast to rise as consumers have slightly more spending power, with wage rises finally overtaking inflation according to official data.
Christmas 2022 was the bleakest for retailers since 1998, according to Cebr, with rampant inflation and weak consumer spending power hitting sales at peak season – more than a fifth of all retail sales have come in November and December alone over the last two decades.
Source : The Guardian