Britain: a nation of expert Christmas shoppers

Ultra-efficient shop sees us spend £250.91 on gifts in under six hours

Over the last decade, Britain has become a nation of expert, efficient Christmas shoppers - 43% of this year’s Christmas shoppers will buy all their gifts in less than six hours, and 37% will visit fewer than five high street stores over the festive period**.

These findings – from eBay, the UK’s leading online marketplace – have been revealed by research looking into the nation’s Christmas shopping habits both today, and ten years ago.

This Christmas online shopping is set to be the preferred method of buying festive gifts – 73% of Brits will opt for the fast and effective online shop this Christmas, compared with 60% who will hit the high street*. In 2001, £1.8bn was spent by six million Britons shopping online. Fast-forward ten years to 2011 and Brits have spent £31.5bn online in the first half of this year alone.

Mobile shopping is changing the way we shop. 5% of us now plan to maximise our down time and shop via our mobile whilst on the move*. That’s around twice as many mobile shoppers than 2010*. Web-enabled shopping is helping us to be clever with our money as well as our time.

This Christmas the average Brit will spend £250.91 on 18 gifts for 10 people, with an additional £165.53 on decorations, cards, food and more.

The figures show a saving on last year when the average shopper spent £258.19 on the same number of gifts*. Comparisons with ten years ago are even greater – 40% of shoppers who bought gifts ten years ago admit they’ll be buying fewer gifts this year than in 2001**.

Shoppers in the Capital buy the fewest gifts; most Londoners plan on purchasing just 12 gifts at a cost of £230.25*.

Comparing our spending to the rest of Europe shows that Britain isn’t ready to let the downturn ruin Christmas cheer just yet. Only the Irish plan a more expensive Christmas than those in the UK – spending an approximate average of £460 compared to the approximate UK total spend of £410. 

We still spend most on our children (£196.31) followed by our spouses (men are slightly more generous, spending £116.16, compared to £93.54 for women) and parents (£54.27)*.

eBay has also identified the top ten categories that Britain will be buying and selling in during this year’s busiest online shopping day – ‘Super Sunday’, on December 4th, when 5.8million shoppers are expected to log onto alone. Whilst most categories have remained consistent with 2010, toys have been bumped from the top five list for the first time, as mobile phones and videogames become more popular on children’s letters to Santa.

We’re even planning to be ‘efficient’ with the gifts we receive – Around one in ten of us plan on selling any unwanted gifts and 41% of sellers will use the money to buy something else that they do want*.

eBay spokesperson Julia Hutton-Potts, said “In contrast with ten years ago, the web has made us a nation of smart, savvy shoppers who want to make the whole process of Christmas gifting as simple as possible. The popularity of shopping on smartphones is the latest step in this trend, as we look to pick up items whilst on our daily commute commute, or relaxing at home.”



Notes to Editors:


For further information, interviews with an eBay spokesperson, please contact Shine Communications on 0207 100 7100

Notes to editors:

1) *Data source: TNS Consumer research ‘ eBay Christmas Survey’ – carried out October 2011

2) **Date source: YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2120 adults, of which 1963 bought Christmas presents 10 years ago. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th - 9th November 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

3) Data source: Busiest online shopping day: eBay specific forecasting methods employed - applying 2010's busiest shopping day uplift to the weekly trend in 2011 and applying average YOY on 2010's busiest shopping day.

4) All European price comparisons calculated on a Euro to GBP conversion rate of 1: 0.8551

5) Combined Christmas spend calculated from mean scores of total gifts and total non-gift related Christmas spend




Estimated average likely spend on Christmas (TOTAL)


















7) Top ten gift list:

1. Mobile phones and accessories

2. Clothing and accessories

3. Home improvement

4. Computers

5. Photography equipment

6. Video Games

7. Toys

8. Health & beauty

9. Jewelry, gems, and watches

10. Audio equipment