‘Tis the season for Festive Maths! PayPal study reveals three quarters (72%) of Brits will look to cap their spending by budgeting this year

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  • Almost three quarters of Brits (72%) will have a budget in mind for their festive spending this year
  • A preference to have a plan (45%), wanting to prevent going into debt (44%), and feeling less stressed (31%) are top reasons for having a festive budget
  • A quarter of Brits will look to cut down their spending by buying less presents (25%), while a fifth will look to cut back by using more discounts and vouchers (23%)

LONDON, 6th December 2023: Millions of Brits will set budgets this festive season to keep their spending on track amid rising living costs and inflation, new research from PayPal reveals.

PayPal’s 2023 Festive Spending Snapshot1, polling 2,000 UK adults who celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or New Year in the lead up to the holiday season, revealed almost three quarters (72%) of Brits are planning to create a budget for their spending this year – however four in ten (40%) struggle to stick to their budget and believe they will overspend.

Budgeting plans for the holidays
Of the three quarters of people that will look to budget this Holiday season, over two fifths will be allocating gifting amounts per recipient, 35% will be setting price limits, 29% putting money aside throughout the year, and a quarter (26%) searching for price comparisons when looking for the perfect gift.

When looking at ways in which Brits plan to stay on budget and even make cutbacks, a quarter (25%) say they will buy less gifts this year, and a fifth (23%) will look to use more vouchers and discounts. One in ten (13%) will cut down on attending social gatherings over the festive season in a bid to reduce their spending.

Despite their best efforts, almost half (40%) of those who plan to budget this year say they believe they will overspend on the amount they have set. When asked why they believe they will bust their budget, higher prices than previous years (36%), wanting to spoil friends and family (28%), and not wanting to be seen as stingy with holiday shopping (15%) topped the list of reasons given. Shopping in-store is also more likely to potentially cause Brits to overspend this holiday season (12%) than shopping online (10%). 

Are Brits rationalising spending?
Whilst a majority say they will have a budget in mind this year for the holidays, almost half of Brits (43%) admit to rationalising their spending.

PayPal’s report revealed the top ways Brits are rationalising. Those surveyed viewed getting loyalty points when shopping as free money (31%), re-gifting unwanted gifts is seen as the ultimate saving hack (20%), and holiday decorations are viewed as a strategic investment, as they will be reused again (19%). For 17%, getting something half price means that their budget can go further.

When looking at why Brits rationalise, two fifths (40%) apply this logic to justify their overspending to themselves, while for a third (33%), it helps them feel less guilty. For almost a fifth (18%), it helps making bigger purchases seem ‘less scary’.

Fear of outside judgement plays a part for some, with 16% admitting they rationalise their spending to help them justify to others, including family and friends.

Festive shopping habits
Brits have good intentions when it comes to their holiday spending, setting budgets (72%) to planning how they will make payments for purchases such as gifts and decorations – two fifths (40%) will pay for their holiday shopping using loyalty points or rewards, a fifth (21%) will compare prices using apps, and a tenth (11%) will track their spending using apps like PayPal.

Despite this, with 43% of Brits saying they will overspend on their budget this festive season, those surveyed say they would like to seek more advice on how to manage their holiday spending. In fact, almost a fifth (18%) of those surveyed say they would like to be more controlled with their spending this holiday season and would like advice on how to make their money go further (16%).

Carmen Derosas, Head of Consumer Marketing, PayPal UK, spokesperson for PayPal, commented: “Our findings show that there is a clear intention to budget this festive season, amid rising prices and costs of living – although, many of us still admit to struggling to keep to our budgets and rationalising our festive spending. That’s why we are encouraging the nation to forget rationalising and adopt a more budgeted approach by planning their spending.

PayPal offers an easy and convenient way to keep track of your transactions. Whether paying for your purchases with PayPal Checkout, or sending and receiving with friends and family, doing your Festive Maths with PayPal can help you stay on top of your finances this Christmas.”

Refer to the PayPal website for more information on easy budgeting solutions for the festive season.

1 PayPal’s 2023 Festive Spending Snapshot of 2,000 UK adults who celebrate the holidays (nationally representative) conducted by OnePoll in November 2023.

About PayPal 
PayPal has remained at the forefront of the digital payment revolution for more than 20 years. By leveraging technology to make financial services and commerce convenient, affordable, and secure, the PayPal platform is empowering millions of consumers and merchants in more than 200 markets to join and thrive in the global economy. For more information visit  

* An account with PayPal is required to send and receive money
** This article includes tips, suggestions and general information. We recommend that you always do your own research and consider getting independent tax, financial and legal advice before making any important decision.


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