Years of austerity fail to suppress Christmas spirit


Nearly five years of austerity do not appear to have dampened Irish consumer enthusiasm for Christmas.

While festive spending will be down slightly this year, households will still get through more money than any other EU state before the tinsel comes down in January, according to a survey published this morning.

For the 11th year, accountancy firm Deloitte has tracked Christmas spending across Europe and the results show that for the third consecutive year Irish consumers plan to spend less.

There are, however, signs the Christmas cutbacks are coming to an end.

People told the company’s pollsters that they plan to spend 1.7 per cent less this Christmas than last year. The year-on-year reduction in 2011 was 7.4 per cent while 2010 was marked by a fall of 10.6 per cent.

The survey predicts that the average spend per household in Ireland will be €966 – down from more than €1,300 at the height of the boom in 2008. An average of €499 will go on presents while €288 is likely to be spent on food and drink and €178 going out.

The average spend across Europe is a considerably more modest €591, while the Dutch, who will be the most frugal spenders in Europe once again this year, will manage to get through Christmas with an average spend of just €287 per household.

When it comes to cutbacks, gifts will take the biggest hit, with those surveyed saying they planned to spend 2.2 per cent less on presents this year. However, despite keeping a close watch on their Christmas budgets, the Irish will remain generous this year and just 16 per cent of those polled said they would focus more on buying for fewer people.

Food spending will also be hit again this year, with consumers saying they planned to reduce the cost of the Christmas dinner (and trimmings) by 1.3 per cent. Socialising is set for a marginal bounce as people said they would spend 0.3 per more or going out this year.

The survey also indicates that Irish consumers are less pessimistic than they were in 2011 in terms of the overall state of the economy, but when it comes to spending power the news is mixed.

Some 30 per cent of respondents believe that their spending power in 2013 will deteriorate while 28 per cent said they thought it would stay the same with 22 per cent anticipating an improvement.

Top five gifts

Books (46%)

Cash (37%)

Clothes/shoes (35%)

Cosmetics/perfumes (35%)

Gift vouchers (33%)