Saving Christmas This Year
Different Ways of Giving More
There have been two contrasting headlines in the news this week (29 October 2020). One, from a report by the Centre for Retail Research, predicts a rise of at least £1bn in Christmas spending this year. This is due to a number of factors: notably that many of those who are better off have actually managed to save money during the pandemic by going out less and therefore spending less, so that they now have more money for their seasonal shopping. Sadly, the ease of cashless purchasing and the increase in online buying will also mean that those who are less able to afford it will also spend more in order to compensate for anticipated restrictions in celebrations this year.
The other headline was that of ‘Buy One, Give One’ from the perhaps unexpected source of a supermarket chain. Booths Supermarkets, operating chiefly in the north of England, are encouraging their customers to donate items to local food banks – but are underwriting the extra costs themselves. Thus, certain objects purchased by customers will trigger a matching donation of the same items to food banks which will be paid for by the supermarket chain. This is an example that could well be emulated by other, bigger chains throughout the whole country and could trigger a surge of generosity that is not just confined to the Christmas period – and perhaps not just confined to supermarkets either.
Here's some news that really resonates with CASCaid. An article in the Church Times of 13 November 2020, entitled 'How to save Christmas this year', suggests that we might achieve this by keeping Advent. Indeed we might. Why has it taken a pandemic to bring such thinking back into the papers? Some of us have been advocating it for a number of years now.
It's especially relevant these days, and at just £3.95 it might be worth its weight in gold this year.
Perish the Thought
A survey carried out in August 2020 has shown that 60% of respondents plan to spend the same this Christmas as in previous years, despite the pandemic and the resultant financial and other uncertainties. It has also revealed that 30% of the total have already started their Christmas shopping. The main reason given for doing so is to save money. Non-perishable gifts, plus cards and wrapping paper, are among the main purchases to date.
But in fact, far from reducing spending, buying in advance may result in a greater outlay. Often people forget (or mislay!) what they have already bought, and therefore buy more. Or they may see items nearer the time that would make a ‘little extra’ gift. And as for those Christmas mince pies that are already in the supermarkets, check the ‘Best by’ date first! Any boxes bought in September 2020 will almost certainly be best consumed by November at the latest, thus ensuring that you will buy more to tide you over until Christmas Day. See for a perspective on average annual Christmas spending.
Buy Nothing Day
The tide seems to be turning against Black Friday.
A move toward a national 'Buy Nothing Day' is gaining some traction instead. In the run-up to Black Friday (which last year occurred on 29 November), the media were full of warnings that not all the discounts advertised were as good as they might appear at first sight. And in France, there were reports that the government is making moves toward banning Black Friday altogether - although given the extent of online shopping that dominates the day, it is not altogether clear how this might be done.
In the meantime, more churches and Christian charities are advocating the 'Reverse Advent Calendar' scheme, whereby donors are encouraged to purchase items for their local food banks throughout the month of December. All these movements may help contribute toward CASCaid's aim of reducing personal debt while helping others, and helping the planet, at Christmas.
It's Beginning to Look Like an Eco-Christmas...
Like many of us, retailers too are becoming more aware of environmental issues. In addition to beginning to tackle the general problem of single use plastic containers and packaging, there are signs that some are now concerned about sustainability in the festive season in particular. For instance, Marks and Spencer has announced that it will ban glitter from its wrapping paper, greeting cards, decorations and other accessories this year because of its plastic content; and that it will encourage customers not to use tape or bows when wrapping gifts. It is estimated that this could save around 50 tons of plastic in a single season. See our 'What is CASCaid' page for more information. Using paper and string will also help reduce our overall Christmas spending.
Nor is Marks and Spencer the only major retailer to start banning glitter. It has now been joined by Aldi, which is banning it from Hallowe'en items as we write this. Tesco has announced that it is banning plastic Christmas trees. And both John Lewis and Waitrose are banning plastic toys from their Christmas crackers, although this will not be effective for another year. A spokesman cautions that because of the lengthy lead-in time for orders (between 12 and 18 months), it is difficult to implement such decisions immediately.
Even modest contributions towards helping the environment are very welcome. It's heartening to see some retailers are listening to their customers and ditching unnecessary plastics. Hopefully many others will follow their lead.