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Who Sits on Top of the Christmas Family Tree?

More spent on spouse or partner at Christmas than on mum and dad combined

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM -- (Marketwired) -- 12/31/13 -- UK adults spend more on presents for their spouse or partner than on their mum and dad combined at Christmas, according to new research(1) from Nationwide Building Society. On average, GBP 93.79 is spent on the spouse or partner for Christmas compared to just GBP 35.05 on mums and stepmums and GBP 28.88 on dads and stepdads. Children account for the most money spent at Christmas with an average of GBP 136.20 paid out.

Christmas family tree

Paying out on the family at Christmas can be a costly exercise. The Nationwide study shows that, on average, people are shelling out GBP 271.65(2) on the family, including pets, for Christmas. While children account for half of the money spent over the festive period, spouses and partners equate to more than a third (35 per cent) of people's Christmas expenditure.

   Individual spend per family member(2)
Family member                 Amount spent
Child(ren)                      GBP 136.20
Spouse/Partner                   GBP 93.79
Mum/Stepmum                      GBP 35.05
Dad/Stepdad                      GBP 28.88
Sibling(s)                       GBP 26.16
In-laws                          GBP 24.79
Grandparent(s)                   GBP 15.94
Aunt(s)/Uncle(s)                 GBP 10.62
Pet(s)                           GBP 10.49

Cheap or expensive?

Spouses and partners also receive the more expensive purchases at Christmas, according to the survey. More than two in five (44 per cent) respondents would spend GBP 50 or more, with a quarter (26 per cent) of those admitting that GBP 100 or more will be spent on their spouse or partner for Christmas.

However, this is in stark contrast to their parents, where only 14 per cent say they will spend GBP 50 or more on their mum or stepmum. Dads and stepdads fall even further down their priority list with only nine per cent saying they would spend GBP 50 or more.

The wider Christmas family tree

While children, spouses/partners and the parents/step-parents understandably account for the bulk (77 per cent) of people's financial outlay at Christmas, money is still being spent on members further down the family tree for Christmas. The in-laws (GBP 24.79) appear to get preferential treatment over the grandparents (GBP 15.94), while aunts and uncles (GBP 10.62) are only on a par with the family pet (GBP 10.49) at Christmas.

Male generosity

Men are likely to spend more on family at Christmas than women with an average of GBP 287.21 being paid out by men compared to just GBP 257.31 by women. When it comes to individual family members, on average, women still spend more than men (GBP 142.42 to GBP 129.39) on the children. However, when it comes to each other, men will spend around 30 per cent more on their spouse or partner than women because while men will spend GBP 106.48 for Christmas, women will only spend GBP 81.34.

Graham Pilkington, Nationwide's director for banking, comments: "It's inevitable that the spouse or partner remains top of mind when people are out doing the Christmas shopping. After all, they will often be the first person they see on Christmas Day. However, it is a shame if people are not taking the opportunity to repay the support that the Bank of Mum and Dad has provided over the years."

The family Scrooge

Christmas doesn't automatically equal expenditure. In fact, Nationwide's research shows that some will spend nothing on their family members for Christmas. Five per cent of respondents admit they will spend nothing on their children for Christmas with seven per cent of people saying their spouse or partner will get nothing. Parents may also be at risk from the Christmas cut-back this year with 13 per cent of mums and stepmums and 15 per cent of dads and stepdads receiving nothing for Christmas.

Family member              % of people who spend nothing for Christmas
Child(ren)                                                          5%
Spouse/Partner                                                      7%
Mum/Stepmum                                                        13%
Dad/Stepdad                                                        15%
In-laws                                                            18%
Grandparent(s)                                                     20%
Sibling(s)                                                         21%
Pet(s)                                                             25%
Aunt(s)/Uncle(s)                                                   35%

Graham Pilkington continues: "In this period of austerity where the family finances are becoming increasingly stretched, it is completely understandable that some people won't be spending any money on their family members over the festive period and it could suggest that people don't need to be materialistic to have a happy Christmas.

"With 0 per cent purchase and balance transfer deals, credit cards can offer a viable way for people to ensure they have a very merry Christmas but ensure the cost is spread out in a financially manageable way. And, if the card comes with a cashback offer, it could also help to offset some of that pre-Christmas expenditure."

Notes to editors:

(1) All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,262 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th - 27th November 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

(2) The individual means were calculated based on those who have spent on each of the specified family member. The total mean was calculated using the base of all UK adults who spend on at least one family member.

Find recent press releases and photos at the Nationwide Media Centre:

Twitter: @NationwidePress


Media information: Nationwide
Mike Pitcher
01793 657225

Deborah Isaac-Taylor
01793 655354

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