Parents planning to spend less on presents as cost-of-living crisis threatens Christmas

Published on
01 November 2022

Over half (55%) of parents with children aged 18 or under in Great Britain are likely to reduce their spending on food and drink this Christmas, while almost half (47%) are likely to spend less on Christmas presents for their children compared to previous years, according to new research for the UK’s largest children’s charity, Barnardo’s. 

Over two in five parents (42%) surveyed by YouGov on behalf of Barnardo’s who celebrate Christmas said they are also planning to rein in spending on Christmas activities and entertainment for their children this year.* Only around one in five respondents (18%) said they had no plans to reduce their spending on Christmas this year.  

Meanwhile, nine in ten Barnardo’s frontline workers (93%) have raised concerns over how the cost-of-living crisis may impact children, young people and families this Christmas.** 

The survey comes as Barnardo’s launches its My Christmas campaign to raise funds for the many children likely to feel cold, hungry, and left out due to the rising cost-of-living this Christmas.  

Kerry, 47, used to be in a well-paid, full-time job until last year, when she was diagnosed with a serious heart condition and is awaiting major surgery. She lives in Rotherham with a 14-year-old daughter. She said: 

“I was out of work for Christmas last year, but the cost-of-living is really biting at the moment. I’m dreading Christmas this year.  

“Three of my daughters are over 18 and they understand I can’t buy them any presents this year, but I still want to get something for my youngest. It will have to be something small, even though all her friends will probably be getting things like the latest mobile phone. 

“I’m full of guilt, but I’m terrified about paying my energy bills and the rising cost of food. I don’t think we’ll be putting the heating on unless we are shaking. There’s no way I’ll be buying a Christmas tree. 

“I used to have the family around for Christmas – there’d be about ten of us - and I cooked the Christmas dinner. This year I’m having to go around my eldest daughter’s home, but I’m going to be turning up with no gifts for anyone.” 

Barnardo’s CEO Lynn Perry MBE said:

“After two years of Covid disruption, many of us are looking forward to a return to normal, pre-pandemic Christmas festivities. But for the UK’s most vulnerable children, a ‘normal’ Christmas can mean not enough food, struggling to stay warm, going without presents, and feeling left out while others celebrate.  

“We want all children to feel safe and happy at Christmas, but we know that’s impossible while their basic needs aren’t being met. With the sharp rise in food and energy costs this year, our research suggests many parents are facing additional pressure to create a special Christmas for their families during a time of unprecedented financial strain.  

“Barnardo’s supports children and families who need urgent help this winter. That’s why we’re asking businesses and members of the public to embrace the season of giving by donating to our My Christmas campaign, and help Barnardo’s provide food vouchers, warm clothing and other essentials to the children and families who need it most." 

All funds raised by Barnardo's My Christmas campaign shall go where they are needed the most. This is to ensure some of the UK's most vulnerable children are supported and nurtured. Donations from the public could help us to:   

  • ​​​​Provide food parcels or supermarket vouchers so children don’t go hungry this Christmas    
  • Host services that provide children with a nourishing Christmas dinner and snacks   
  • Provide energy vouchers to heat families’ homes and let children wake up to a warm home   
  • Provide warm clothing to children during the winter months   
  • Throw Christmas parties for children in our services so children can join in the festivities    
  • Provide Christmas presents or vouchers for families to buy gifts for their children   

Barnardo’s is calling on businesses across the UK to partner with us in addressing child poverty. Local high street estate agents at Cubitt & West, Douglas Allen, Pittis and Wards are raising £1 million to help us provide essential support to children in the South East of England this winter. 

Anyone wishing to donate or discover ways of supporting should visit:  

Notes to editors  

 * YouGov survey: Total sample size was 1,053 GB parents of children aged 18 or under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th - 6th October 2022.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults.