Christmas Prep? It's Only September!

As the final quarter of the year approaches, we're all familiar with the dilemma that always pops up without fail - how early should we start shopping for the festive season?

Whether you prefer a last-minute dash or you're an organised gift shopper, there's no ignoring the Christmas cards that start appearing in shops earlier each year and the seasonal tunes that are played on the radio months in advance.

This got us thinking - how early does Christmas start for different people?

The Goldsmiths Festive Survey

Here at Goldsmiths, Christmas is one of our favourite times of the year. That's why we decided to do some research into how early the festivities tend to begin for the British public. We carried out a survey of over 1,000 participants to find out whether they were cheery Christmas elves or grumpy Scrooges. They were all asked festive-related questions like whether they participate in gift-giving, how early they start shopping, how much they spend and when they put up their decorations.

So, what did we find out? Did the levels of festive cheer vary between different genders, age categories or locations?

Christmas Starts Earlier for Women

The results from our survey revealed that women generally seem to be more organised with their Christmas shopping, with 7% actually starting as early as January. In fact, across both genders, one in 20 people admitted to doing this and buying their gifts gradually throughout the year. In contrast, 29% of men said they usually leave their shopping until the final fortnight before Christmas - two times more than women who left it that late in the month.

Don't worry if you don't fall into either of these categories though. In terms of average start dates, it seems that women tend to start their Christmas prep in the second half of October, whereas for men it's a month later in the second half of November.

Millennials Start Shopping Earlier

The 18-24 category were the quickest off the mark when starting their Christmas shopping, choosing to begin in the second half of October. Whereas every other category preferred to start in the first half of November.

To our surprise, it was the 65+ demographic that were least organised, with 33% waiting until December to start. However, we attributed this to Christmas preparations starting earlier each year and the 65+ age category remaining the most traditional by limiting their festivities to one month. The element of tradition amongst this age category became a common theme throughout our festive survey results.

We Spend Around £300 on Christmas Gifts Each Year

The average amount spent by Brits on Christmas gifts is £289.32 but many of us expect to exceed this amount, with one in five people planning to spend over £500! Our survey showed that this is more common for residents of the North East, where one in three people are likely to spend over £500, compared to just one in 10 in Norwich.

So, what kind of gifts get a positive response from recipients? Over 67% of respondents said they'd be happy or extremely happy receiving a piece of jewellery as a gift.

When looking closer at the data, we spotted the gender divide when it came to gifting jewellery. 81% of females would be happy to find jewellery under the tree whereas under half of men feel the same way. Across both genders, there was a very positive response to opening up a luxury watch - so take note if you're planning on doing your Christmas shopping soon!

Is Playing Christmas Music in August Acceptable?

According to one in 50 of us: yes! What's more, one in 20 thought September was an acceptable time to start spinning those festive tunes too.

But don't worry if you prefer to reserve your Christmas festivities until after Halloween and Bonfire Night - you're not alone in wanting to postpone the celebrations until nearer the date. 42% of Brits think that the first two weeks of December are the ideal time to start playing Christmas tunes and 22% would prefer to wait until the second half of the month.

When it comes to music, age was a key differentiator as 83% of the 65+ and 76% of the 55-64 categories didn't want to hear any Christmas songs until December. This was compared to just 43% of the 25-34s and 53% of the 18-24s. So, generally we become less tolerant of the festive tunes as we get older.

Some More Interesting Stats

  • - 24% of people think the Christmas feeling should last for a couple of months
  • - 13% of people said they use Black Friday to purchase most of their Christmas presents
  • - One in four 25-34 year olds put their decorations up before the end of October
  • - One in three people in Birmingham are incredibly organised and have already sent out their Christmas cards by the end of October
  • - Bristol starts shopping the earliest with nearly one in five starting their Christmas shopping in the first half of the year

Our Results: A Summary

Our survey revealed a lot of interesting information about the festive attitudes in the UK. It seems that the Christmas spirit starts earlier for the younger generation in terms of buying gifts, playing festive tunes and putting up decorations. Those in the 65+ age category preferred to take a more traditional approach by saving their festivities for December.

With our results showing many people doing their Christmas shopping throughout the year, starting as early as January, it's never too early in the year to do your Christmas prep! Sorather than saying "it's only September!", perhaps we should be saying "it's September already!" instead.