Ask yourself, what does Christmas mean to you? Is it a welcome break from the busy daily routine? Is it the Christmas gifts – giving or receiving? The long-awaited time to spend with family and friends? Is the time to ‘give back’ and do something special for those in need? Is it the entire Christmas celebration: from the first lights, the glittering window displays, the sound of Christmas music on the radio and in the shops, the preparation of festive food, or is it the family sitting down together to share some quality, uninterrupted time together? For every one of us, Christmas means something different, something uniquely individual.
According to research by YouGov (2020) 91% of the British population celebrate Christmas in some shape or form, while only 1 in 5 Brits (22%) said that celebrating the birth of Christ makes Christmas an important time, suggesting that Christmas has become a fundamentally secular festival for most.
It is, of course, the most wonderful time of the year…at least that’s the expectation. The festive season – however it is celebrated in your home – has, in recent years, been heralded by Black Friday (today, Friday 25 November) and Cyber Monday, with big brands offering ‘cut price’ offers, and consumers looking to secure a great deal. We are bombarded – on social platforms and Google searches, emails, on the TV and radio and in the wider media – with ‘too good to be missed’ deals, creating an adrenaline-fuelled retail frenzy, escalating the urge to conquer the Christmas shopping list and ‘bag a bargain’.
UK shoppers are expected to spend around £8.71bn over this year’s Black Friday weekend, according to InternetRetailing. While taking advantage of these discounts can help us save money on things like Christmas presents, it’s important not to let the sales go to our head.
The number of people setting out to search for a bargain in shops across the UK is expected to be higher this year, according to Springboard, with UK shopping centres set to see 16% more customers than 2021 – although overall, footfall is expected to still be below pre-pandemic levels, it said.
Meanwhile, scams rise by a third around Black Friday, according to analysis by Lloyds Bank, with most fraud connected with clothes purchases. The BBC reported (22/11/22) that the bank said the volume of scams soared by 29% around Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2021. “Fraudsters use social media to post scam offers. They can even send them straight to your inbox. Always search for deals yourself,” Lloyds Bank warned.
While people may have been looking forward to the first fully post-pandemic Christmas, the latest YouGov data (October 2022) suggests that many are already making plans for a scaled-back celebration as the rising cost of living impacts their wallets. Six in ten (60%) say they will spend less on Christmas this year than they usually would, compared to just 2% who say they will spend more than usual. Fewer than a third (28%) expect to have a ‘normal’ Christmas, although this rises to 36% amongst the over 65s.
It isn’t just the social aspect of Christmas that may be different this year – a third of Britons (33%) say they will reduce food expenditure, and half (51%) of Britons are planning to cut the amount they spend on gifts. 55% of parents with children under 10 saying they will have to spend less on presents this year, and 40% will forego festive outings.
Against this backdrop of financial crisis, it could also be a bleak time for charities; November and December are usually a peak time for charity donations, but in the same survey more than a fifth (22%) say they will limit the amount they donate to charities in response to the rising cost of living.
We can, however, still enjoy the Christmas preparations and give to charity. Northampton High’s inaugural Christmas Fayre on Friday 2 December, 4.30pm to 6.30pm offers the best of both. Kicking off the season of Christmas productions, concerts, wreath-making, Christmas crafts, Christmas Jumper Days, Sparkle Parties and collective celebrations, all proceeds from the Christmas Fayre will be donated to two deserving funds – this year’s school charity, KidsAid, which helps to support children who have suffered trauma and provides mental health support, and the school fund to restore the well-used Astroturf to its former glory.
With Father Christmas in his Grotto, Christmas carols, a student-led Christmas Market, traditional Tombola, a Raffle and a Silent Auction, offering money-can’t-buy experiences, there is something for everyone. Festive refreshments will unite children and adults, families and friends, and share in some Christmas spirit. Don’t forget to submit your bid for one (or more) of the Silent Auction lots by emailing email@example.com. We hope to see you there!
Director of Marketing & Admissions