The cost of last minute Christmas shopping

Don't leave it too late - the cost of last minute Christmas shopping

There aren't many shopping days left before Christmas Day, so anyone still with gifts and goods to buy is running short on time. And there's a good chance this means you! Almost half (45%) of UK adults still have shopping to do, with last minute purchases averaging £66 according to American Express research.

SEE ALSO: Christmas gift ideas for men

See also: Christmas present guide for grandparents

We're most likely to need to buy gifts, with one in four having forgotten to get at least one. Christmas Day food and drink are on 20% of shopping lists, perhaps understandable with many sell-by dates not quite stretching long enough just yet.

A decent number (12%) will also be picking up more catering supplies or getting an outfit (7%) for festive parties. There's also a bunch (7%) who are still to get Secret Santa purchases – often leading to ill-thought through novelty gifts that end up in the bin.

The cost of panic buying

There are a few dangers in leaving your final Christmas shopping too late.

You'll probably have to brave busier high streets and supermarkets and you might not be able to buy what you want as stocks run low, especially on popular items. Both are potentially stressful and time consuming at a time when you're no doubt already really busy.

But the biggest risk is you'll be tempted to blow your Christmas budget just so you can tick all the boxes. Overspending at Christmas isn't uncommon, but the results can be expensive as credit card bills arrive in January. Last Christmas more than a quarter of people were struggling with debts when the New Year arrived.

How to keep to your festive budget under pressure

To avoid spending more than you can afford in these last few days, try one of our four last minute Christmas shopping tactics.

Work out what you can afford to spend

Hopefully you've got the tree up and decorated, and the bulk of the presents bought. But that could still leave the food, drink, forgotten items, party essentials and any Christmas travel.

You can use our Christmas money tool to list these all out and attach a value to them. Then compare this total to how much you have to spend. If it's going to cost more than you can afford, you'll be able to see where you'll have to cut back.

Research online

With so many price comparison sites you'll be able to see the cheapest place to buy before you leave your home. They often also have a price history feature. Some of the ones to consider are:

List what you're going to buy

If you head to the supermarket (or any shop) with a list of what you need, you're far less likely to stray and buy things you don't really want or need.

Order online and pick up in-store

If you think your head is going to be turned by deals and special offers, you can instead choose to shop online. You'll be able to see exactly how much you spend as you go along, helping you stick to budget.

Though many shops offer free delivery, not all do. Plus, you might not be able to guarantee the gift will arrive in time. So to combat these you can often choose to collect in store for free.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

Christmas gift ideas for kids
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Christmas gift ideas for kids
After the success of Pie Face last year, we should have known that the follow-up would be huge this year. Just load up the throwing arm with whipped cream and get ready to ruin your Christmas jumpers. John Lewis is selling it for a competitive £17.97.

No list for this Christmas would be complete without the hard-to-buy toy of 2016. Hatchimals come in at £64.99, but have been selling for much more on eBay as parents get desperate to snap them up.

The good news is that you don't need to panic and over-pay just yet. The manufacturers are continuing to deliver stock, so if you check in with the major players on a regular basis, there’s still every chance you will strike lucky before Christmas Day.

If you have a Star Wars fan in the family, then Rogue One’s release is probably more of an event than Christmas this year.

You can capitalise on the new Best. Film. Ever. by getting them an AT-ST Walker from the film. It's £39.99 from Tesco Direct.

The Furby has been around forever, but has now been updated with its own app. As well as talking Furbish and doing all the usual Furby stuff, its antenna glows when the app has been updated with something new.

This toy has been recommended all over the place as a hot toy for 2016. It’s available from Toys R Us for £79.99.

Argos put this in its list of hot gifts this Christmas. There are three ways to blast foam bullets at your friends and family - which must surely be fantastic news for little sisters and slow-moving targets everywhere.

With a price tag of £59.99 from Argos it’s quite an investment, but you’ll get plenty of action for your money.

Just what the wannabe pop star needs - a microphone with a selfie stick, so you can film yourself singing along to your favourite tracks.

It might be a bit of a Christmas fad, but at £19.99 from Argos, it’s a relatively affordable one.

The robot dog trend continues, and the tie in with the Paw Patrol TV show is likely to make this a must-have. You can get all of the main characters, but Marshall is likely to be particularly popular.

Hamleys put it on its list of top gifts this Christmas, and John Lewis is selling it for £69.99.

The film is still doing well in the Box Office top 10, and the tie-ins remain incredibly popular. This doll wears a bracelet, and you have a matching one, which you can use to interact with her. You can also press her tummy and hear 25 phrases - plus of course there's plenty of opportunity for obligatory hair styling.

Toys R Us and Hamleys both tipped this interactive doll as a must-have for Christmas, so lots of retailers have run out of stock. Argos may have one in a store near you, and is selling them for £49.99.

This Chad Valley doll is £39.99 and is notable for how similar to a newborn the manufacturers have made it. It's meant to be the same height and weight, so children can play with their own child.

It’s exclusive to Argos - which is one of the reasons it's on the store’s list of the hottest gifts of the year - the other one being that small children are often obsessed with having a baby of their own.

The game made famous by so many You Tubers has been super-sized for Christmas. The general joy of the game remains the same: with identical jelly beans either being delicious flavours or completely grim ones. This version just makes it into more of an organised family game than a bean-eating free-for-all.

It was one gift that Hamleys tipped for this Christmas, so it has sold out all over the place. You can, however, still get it through Amazon for £28.49.


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