By Marcus Leach

Brits plan to spend an average of £560 celebrating Christmas this year - with almost half of people planning to put current economic conditions to one side and spend the same amount on presents for their family as last year.

The HSBC Christmas Spending Survey found that across the
UK people will spend on average £378 on gifts for their immediate family,
and an additional £183 on food, drink and entertainment this festive
season. In Wales the respective figures are £394 and £166, while in
Scotland they are £351 and £164.

The survey also revealed that:

• The biggest spenders will be those aged 35-44 (£605.89), as well as
those in living in the North-West of England (£852.84).
• 20% of people say they will spend more this year, compared to last year
- and this applies to more Scottish people (26%), but to fewer Londoners
• In contrast, 22% will spend less this year, compared to 2010 -
especially women (25%) and people living in Wales (31%).

Saving money

Among people who plan to spend money on presents for their immediate family, 78% will try and save cash by one means or another to get the best value for their money.

Over a third of people (38%) will use discount vouchers, whereas 34% will be
cashing in their retailer reward points. Others will be more selective when
it comes to giving presents, with 14% saying they will drop some people off
their present list this year to make savings.

1 in 10 people (9%) will give homemade presents, whereas others will resort
to recycling presents given to them in previous years (8%), with another 6%
even giving second-hand items as presents.

Women will do more to save money this year when it comes to giving Christmas presents to immediate family members, whereas 21% of men will not even try to make any savings.

High Street v Online spending

The survey found that British consumers will turn as much to the high street
as they will to the Internet when it comes to Christmas shopping for
presents this year. However, 13% of people will only use online sources for
presents and exactly the same proportion will only use offline outlets.

In general, online sources will be more popular with the younger age groups
under 55, but more of those aged 65+ will only use offline sources.

Compared to men, women find particular appeal in high-street shops (71%),
but also local markets (27%), Christmas fetes (20%), charity shops (14%) and
boutique shops (10%).

Car boot sales, however, are equally appealing to men and women as a source
of presents, and the same applies to different age and social groups, and to
people across the country.

Financing Christmas

The survey revealed that 67% of people will fund their Christmas present
shopping from their salary or other income and 37% will use all or some of
their savings.

However, collectively, 21% of people will borrow from one source or another
to pay for the presents they buy.

Credit and store cards will be especially popular with those aged 35-44
(22%), whereas using an overdraft facility will be especially common among
those aged 18-24 (13%).

In fact, more people aged 18-24 will also turn to personal loans (3%),
payday loans (2%) and even borrowing money from family and friends (3%).

When to hit the shops

Retailers will be pleased to hear that just 6% of British people say they
have already done the majority of their Christmas shopping, either in last
year's January sales (1%) or throughout the year up to and including
September (5%).

Early December (1st to 11th) promises to be busy as usual with 30% of people
doing most of their present shopping then. Just 3% will put it off until the
week before Christmas (19th to 22nd).

"Our research shows that despite the recent economic gloom, many households still plan to spend money celebrating this special time of the year," Ashtar Antoine, HSBC Head of Current Account Management, said.

"It is clear that the majority of households are looking to get the best value for their money, with discount vouchers and retailer reward schemes popular methods of saving cash.

"Over two thirds of people will fund their present shopping from their
salary or other income. To help our customers keep on top of their finances,
we offer a free text message alert facility that warns them when they are
nearing their overdraft limit.

"We are also the only bank to give our customers an alert when withdrawing cash from HSBC ATMs if the amount they are requesting will take them over their overdraft limit."

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