Waitrose unveils Christmas luxuries: including trees

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Prince Charles in Waitrose

Waitrose has decided we're ready for an indulgent Christmas. It's time to leave austerity and caution behind, and get back to the business of conspicuous consumption.

And it's not the only chain with high hopes for the return of the big spender this Christmas.



Luxury

Waitrose has unveiled its Christmas range, with a number of luxury indulgences. The biggest development, according to the Telegraph, is the decision to stock Nordman Fir Christmas trees from the Black Isles of Inverness. This reflects the chain's decision to expand into gardening - the second most popular hobby of its customers.

It will also sell a Heston Party food range, which will include prawn mousse shots and chilli corn muffins. And there will be hampers that shoppers can create themselves.

It's not alone in pulling out all the stops for Christmas. When Marks & Spencer unveiled its range on Wednesday it revealed it would be doubling the amount of game on sale, and introducing wood pigeon and grouse.

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It's not hard to see why they are making the move. Last Christmas was a record for Waitrose - when it topped sales of £300 million for the first time. At Christmas we all tend to trade up our groceries for special occasions, so the high end food retailers are positioning their festive offerings to allow them to cash in.

They also also bound to be cheered by recent retail spending figures. The Visa Expenditure Index showed spending in June was up 0.4% from May. It was the second biggest monthly boost since last September - and marks a 2.1% increase over the last 12 months.

Can we afford it?

The only fly in the ointment is whether we can afford it. We're all sick of cutting back and austerity: we'd all love to be able to afford a luxury Christmas, but can we?

A Which? study revealed that 46% of people went into debt last year to pay for Christmas. The average person borrowed £301, but 6% borrowed between £500 and £1,000. More luxury temptations, available round the corner, are only going to make the pressure to overspend even worse. It may mean, therefore, that the luxury Christmas offered by these brands is beyond our pockets this year, and we ought to steer clear.

Of course, there's always the temptation to try to make money from this. Heston's ranges have proven popular in the past, and his Christmas pudding with a whole candied orange was so popular that it sold out and was selling at a massive mark-up on eBay. There may well be those who are sizing up the Christmas 2013 range, and wondering whether there is a potential earner lurking amidst the luxuries.

So what do you think? Will you be indulging, staying away, or finding a nice Heston earner this Christmas?