Christmas spending habits set to changeAmex finds 'Secret Santa' schemes on the rise

13 November 2011

Christmas tree and presents

American Express research has revealed changes in Christmas spending habits

New research by American Express (Amex) has found an increasing number of people are set to change their Christmas spending habits in order to keep costs down.

One-in-four people are said to be planning a ‘Secret Santa' system - selecting just one member of their family or group of friends that they will be responsible for buying a gift for.

Other popular tactics will include agreeing a financial limit on what they will spend on each other (68%) and requesting specific gifts from loved ones (38%) to make sure they receive what they want.

Almost half (48%) will request gift lists from their family and friends to avoid money being spent on unwanted Christmas presents, while just over one in three (34%) people plan to give vouchers or cash.

Christmas spending still expected to rise

Despite the change in habits, Amex also found that people plan to spend £364 on average on presents for Christmas 2011, compared with £307 for Christmas 2009 and £260 for Christmas 2007.

A quarter of parents (25%) plan to splash out in excess of £100 on gifts for their children, while a fifth of adults (20%) expect to spend more than £100 on their partner.

Julie Hay, Head of Credit Cards at Amex, said: 'People are looking to take a more savvy approach to buying presents this year, but the cost of Christmas is still higher than it has been in previous years. To help make spending go further this savvy approach should also be extended to the way in which people pay for goods.'

Spreading the cost of Christmas

Charging no interest on new purchases for up to 15 months, 0%-on-purchases credit cards can be a useful way of spreading the cost of large purchases over a year.

The best deals come from Tesco Bank and Marks & Spencer who currently offer 15-month 0% deals on new purchases. Deals of at least 12 months are also on offer from Barclaycard, Halifax, Sainsbury's Finance, Virgin and Bank of Scotland.

It pays to make a note of the date your 0% deal runs out to avoid incurring interest in the final month. Always set up a direct debit for at least the minimum payment - if you miss a payment, you may lose the whole 0% deal.

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