Bah Humbug! Scottish Friendly research reveals 38% of the working population won't take part in Secret Santa this Christmas

Press release 7th December 2015

  • Britons spend on average £9.41 on ‘Secret Santa’ presents
  • Nearly one in five only take part in Secret Santa because of pressure from their colleagues
  • 5 per cent of people don’t take part as they don’t want to waste money on the people they work with
  • Paying for colleagues’ gifts was the third biggest money concern for Britons in the lead up to Christmas behind buying family gifts and simply making ends meet

38 per cent of the working population in the UK plan on not taking part in Secret Santa this year according to a survey by savings and ISA provider Scottish Friendly. As the festive season gets into full swing, the research, which looked at the spending habits at Christmas across the UK, found that Britons, when they do take part, spend on average £9.41 on presents for a colleague.

The findings, which come as part of Scottish Friendly’s latest Disposable Income Index survey, revealed that while 25 per cent of those participating spend no more than £5 on Secret Santa gifts, 33 per cent are willing to spend more than £10 on their colleagues and friends.

Hey big spenders…
How much to spend is often a source of disagreement among those in Secret Santa groups. One third stipulate a maximum spend of no less than £6 and no more than £10, the most popular spending limit. However, 20 per cent of participants said they always go over the limit, compared to just 11 per cent who said they never spend the full amount.

Perhaps unsurprising to some, men are more likely than women to buy gifts that come under the spend limit. And in a touching demonstration of the Christmas spirit, 23 per cent of unemployed people polled said they would happily pay over the limit if they were in a Secret Santa group.

Regionally, those in Northern Ireland are the most generous when it comes to Secret Santa, spending an average of £11.47 per present. The Welsh spend the least on average at £6.90 per present and least enjoy taking part in the tradition.

Feeling the pressure?
Interestingly, in the lead-up to Christmas, paying for a colleague’s gift came out as the third biggest concern for Britons, behind the more obvious worries of paying for family presents and making their Christmas pay cheque last until January.

A nation of Scrooges?
The survey also revealed only 49 per cent of people enjoyed taking part in Secret Santa, with 19 per cent saying the only reason they take part is due to pressure by colleagues and 12 per cent not wanting to come across as mean.

Remarkably, some 5 per cent of people admitted they refuse to take part because they do not want to waste money on their colleagues, while nearly 6 per cent would take part if they had more money available to spend.

It’s the thought that counts
The top three gifts people would least like to receive as a secret Santa present were vouchers, chocolate and alcohol. When people come to buying presents for their friends and colleagues 61 per cent think about what people would like before buying, while 23 per cent buy sale items and 15 per cent recycle old gifts.

Calum Bennie, savings expert at Scottish Friendly, said:
"Christmas is typically regarded as the season of goodwill, so it’s an eye-opener that nearly four out of ten of the working population don’t plan on taking part in Secret Santa this year.

"It’s well-known that Christmas is an expensive time of the year for everyone, but taking part in a Secret Santa group can be a cost-effective way of arranging Christmas gifts between friends and colleagues. As our survey highlighted, people are getting savvy and creative when it comes to buying, or even recycling, Secret Santa gifts and this should help offset at least some of the costs of Christmas and help boost disposable income at an important time of the year."


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