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Parents' Christmas gift spending to drop, says poll

Children could wake up to emptier stockings this Christmas as research found more than a third of parents in the UK intend to spend less on gifts than usual.

In a worrying sign for retailers, anxiety about finances is set to hit takings at the tills, with about a third (35 per cent) of those polled saying they also plan to spend less on food.

Some 30per cent said they would economise on visiting relatives over the festive season too – potentially leading to disappointing mince pie and sherry sales.

But presents for loved ones was the area that most intended to cut back on, with 39 per cent of parents admitting they would lavish less on these this year.

Plans for a frugal Christmas reflected the fact that almost half (46 per cent) of UK parents reported having felt stressed about money as they lay in bed at night, the Populus poll commissioned by the Family and Parenting Institute found.

More than a third (38 per cent) have seen an increase in family arguments or tensions due to financial issues.

And a third confessed they had found it harder to be active parents over the last 12 months due to money worries.

The survey results come after British government announced a number of plans affecting families, including decisions to scrap the universal child benefit payment and the child trust fund.

More than half of mothers said they worried their household income would fail to cover bills next year.

Dr Katherine Rake, Family and Parenting Institute chief executive, said: "These survey results expose the severe pressures that many families are currently experiencing.

"Money is tight and parents have been left wondering if they have been lined up to take the brunt of the economic cuts."

She described as "particularly concerning" the finding that 30 per cent of parents plan to spend less on visiting relatives this winter, warning it could lead to isolation among the elderly.

A separate survey found children in some regions were set to find more presents under the tree on Christmas morning than those in other regions.

In a OnePoll survey of 3,000 UK mothers, those in Newcastle said they would spend the most on their children, where the average Christmas shopping bill was expected to be £334, while unlucky Aberystwyth youngsters can expect an average of only £88 to be spent on them.

Populus interviewed 2,053 adults in Britain for its survey.

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