Consumer: The unexpected cost of Christmas

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The 12 days of Christmas will cost the average British family an unexpected extra £650 this year, a report has revealed.

The period between Christmas Day and January 5 will see people spending money on food, drinks, pub visits, eating out, travel, visits to family and sales shopping, according to a survey carried out by First Direct bank.

The research found that the majority of families will not have budgeted for the post-Christmas expense, which is nearly as much as the average £750 spent on gifts, decorations and food in the run-up to 25 December.

The report, compiled from a survey of more than 2,000 people and published consumer spending data, found that the average family spends a total of £642 after Christmas - the equivalent of more than 40 medium-sized turkeys.

This includes £195 on eating out, £121 on travel and visiting family, £120 on sales shopping, £109 on food and £97 on drinks and trips to the pub.

And 85% of those questioned will not have budgeted for the extra costs.

The report found that families will do two family food shops and eat out five times during the 12 days of Christmas.

They will make three trips to the pub, with 5% going 10 times between Christmas Day and January 5, and 18-24 year olds will spend £80 on alcohol.

The average family will drive seven miles a day, make four visits to relatives and take one taxi journey. A total of 11% will travel more than 250 miles.

Sales shoppers will spend an average of £60, with consumers in Yorkshire spending £87.

First Direct said it was the first time the cost of the post-Christmas Day festivities had been calculated.

Zoe Shore, head of marketing at First Direct, said: “We know we will have to splash out on gifts, decorations and the Christmas dinner but we found that the majority of us don’t account for what goes on after Christmas Day and the sum of all those small spends - a meal out here, and bottle of wine there.

“With schools and many employers not re-opening until January 5, Christmas will become a two-week holiday for a lot of people, and that means extra expense which, we found 85% of people haven’t budgeted for.”

First Direct had created a free mobile app, the Saveapp, to help people resist the temptations of spending too much.

Meanwhile, Parents frantically searching for the must have gifts for their children this Christmas could build up on average £4,347 over 18 years, if they chose to invest this money into savings instead, according to new research conducted by the Halifax.

On average, parents spend £163 on Christmas presents for their children, averaging between nine and 10 presents per child. This is despite the fact that research has found that nearly one third of parents with a child aged six to 18 (29%) believe that they would prefer to receive money at Christmas over a gift.

Currently those parents whose child has received money for Christmas believe they receive around £88 on average. A third (32%) say their children spend all the cash, and fewer than one in 10 (8%) save all the money.

If the money spent annually on Christmas gifts were to be placed in the Halifax Junior Cash ISA for each year over an 18 year period, parents could see a nest egg for their child grow to almost £4,347, having earned almost £1,413 in interest alone.

For families looking to put just a little aside at Christmas for their child’s future savings pot, just saving a third of this outlay each year over 18 years would see a savings pot of nearly £1,449 build up, including interest of almost £471.

Research reveals that two thirds (63%) of parents have savings accounts for all their children, with the average savings total for each child amounting to £1,225. This is significantly less than the potential total nest-egg that parents could accumulate if they chose savings over presents.

* A third of Brits will buy a Christmas gift for their pet this year, worth at least £10. Around 65% of people will buy a pet a Christmas gift and 64% of those will spend at least £10, 27% will spend up to £30.