The gifts that keep on taking! British parents spending over £800 at Christmas but hidden costs of presents roll into the New Year

Thursday 9th November: British parents are underestimating the hidden costs of Christmas, with a new games console, sports equipment, or a mobile phone potentially costing parents hundreds of additional pounds every year.

Although UK parents expect to spend an average of £810 on Christmas this year, with £250 being spent on their children, new research reveals that parents are naïve when it comes to anticipating any knock-on costs of the gifts they buy.

The study of 5,000 parents, commissioned by comparethemarket.com for its latest Parentdex, found that four in 10 (40%) admit they don’t consider the ongoing costs a gift such as a games console could generate, and yet a similar number (42%) claim that they are forced to fork out more cash over the following year.

Whilst the most popular gifts of the moment include clothes, toys, stocking fillers, and books (63%, 60%, 56% and 55% respectively), games and electronics (49% and 40% respectively) are still enormously popular.

Interestingly, mums are better at budgeting for these hidden costs and actually tend to over-compensate. Six out of 10 (60%) mums polled stated that they accounted for extra costs, whilst just four in 10 (40%) ended up paying out more for the Christmas gifts after the festive period.

In contrast, while more than half (58%) of British fathers claim to account for the potential associated costs of the gifts they buy, 46% admit they end up paying more after it has been gifted. What’s more, to cover these costs, dads are spending an extra £114 on average – compared to £93 spent by mums.

Looking at common gifts that keep on taking post-Christmas, a games console with an RRP of £450 could end up costing parents an additional £30 for every controller bought, with a top 10 game costing up to £50 too. Beyond this, a new TV set could end up costing £500, not to mention the recurring costs of streaming services and TV packages that can cost hundreds of pounds every year.

Fortunately for parents, a look into how the cost of Christmas differs by age of the child found that festive spending doesn’t simply increase over time. In fact, the research found that parents with children aged 9 – 13 spent the most at Christmas, forking out nearly a grand (£929) across all festive expenses each year, closely followed by children aged 14-18 (£927). In contrast, parents of children aged between 0 – 4 were the thriftiest, with an average spend of £760 overall. The average spend by parents of children in the 5 – 8 age group was £870.

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Shakila Hashmi

Head of Money

comparethemarket.com

“Parents are under no illusion at the growing cost of Christmas, but it would seem that the hidden costs of gifts for their children are still catching some out. Positively, a number of parents are taking the necessary steps to prepare themselves for the ongoing costs some presents create. However, it’s worrying that a significant number are still failing to do so, meaning that they are often faced with surprising bills as a result.

 

“I would encourage all parents to think ahead to ensure that they are not caught out in the long run and - more broadly – to think of other ways in which they can keep Christmas costs down, such as shopping around earlier in the season, or looking online to ensure that they get the best deals. Not only will this lighten the financial load, but it should also allow parents to enjoy their family Christmas more as a result!”

Looking across different regions, parents in the North East are most guilty of not accounting for the additional costs of Christmas (45%), spending an extra £104, while parents in the East of England keep their additional post-Christmas costs the lowest (£82).

These findings form part of comparethemarket.com’s latest Parentdex, which explores parental spending over the Christmas period – from top toy trends, to a reliance on credit and the increasing competition between parents to buy the best gifts. For further information and to download a copy of the full report, please visit https://www.comparethemarket.com/money/content/parentdex-3/