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Don’t leave it too late – the cost of last minute Christmas shopping

We’ve only 11 shopping days left before Christmas Day, so anyone still with gifts and goods to buy is running short on time. And there’s a good chance this means you!

Almost half (45%) of UK adults still have shopping to do, with last minute purchases averaging £66 according to American Express research.

We’re most likely to need to buy gifts, with one in four having forgotten to get at least one. Christmas Day food and drink are on 20% of shopping lists, perhaps understandable with many sell-by dates not quite stretching long enough just yet.

A decent number (12%) will also be picking up more catering supplies or getting an outfit (7%) for festive parties. There’s also a bunch (7%) who are still to get Secret Santa purchases – often leading to ill-thought through novelty gifts that end up in the bin.

The cost of panic buying

There are a few dangers in leaving your final Christmas shopping too late.

You’ll probably have to brave busier high streets and supermarkets and you might not be able to buy what you want as stocks run low, especially on popular items. Both are potentially stressful and time consuming at a time when you’re no doubt already really busy.

But the biggest risk is you’ll be tempted to blow your Christmas budget just so you can tick all the boxes. Overspending at Christmas isn’t uncommon, but the results can be expensive as credit card bills arrive in January. Last Christmas more than a quarter of people were struggling with debts when the New Year arrived.

How to keep to your festive budget under pressure

To avoid spending more than you can afford in these last few days, try one of our four last minute Christmas shopping tactics.

Work out what you can afford to spend

Hopefully you’ve got the tree up and decorated, and the bulk of the presents bought. But that could still leave the food, drink, forgotten items, party essentials and any Christmas travel.

You can use our Christmas money tool to list these all out and attach a value to them. Then compare this total to how much you have to spend. If it’s going to cost more than you can afford, you’ll be able to see where you’ll have to cut back.

Research online

With so many price comparison sites you’ll be able to see the cheapest place to buy before you leave your home. They often also have a price history feature. Some of the ones to consider are:

List what you’re going to buy

If you head to the supermarket (or any shop) with a list of what you need, you’re far less likely to stray and buy things you don’t really want or need.

Order online and pick up in-store

If you think your head is going to be turned by deals and special offers, you can instead choose to shop online. You’ll be able to see exactly how much you spend as you go along, helping you stick to budget.

Though many shops offer free delivery, not all do. Plus, you might not be able to guarantee the gift will arrive in time. So to combat these you can often choose to collect in store for free.

 

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