Christmas dinners: Why less affluent shoppers pay more whilst the wealthy pay less

The cost of a Christmas dinner has dropped by about £12.25 for wealthier shoppers over the last seven years while less affluent consumers are paying an average of £5.33 more, new analysis has found.

Dr Jon Seaton

Dr Jon Seaton

A breakdown of supermarket prices for the festive components which make up a traditional Christmas Day dinner for eight people shows the average price is slightly up all-round on last year.

However, Dr Jon Seaton, of Loughborough University’s School of Business and Economics, has split the 10 retailers into low and high budget categories and found that those who shop at the richer end are paying much less than they did in 2012, while the opposite is true for budget stores buyers.

Dr Seaton has used Good Housekeeping’s annual Christmas dinner survey to make the comparison.

He said: “It really does seem that this Christmas will be the best of times for the rich and the worst of times for the poor.

“A re-interpretation of the Good Housekeeping Institute's annual Christmas survey of the 10 major retailers covering over 95% of the UK's grocery market indicates that a Christmas dinner is costing less for the rich and more for the poor, the result is unaltered when we consider the disposable income of these groups after benefits and tax.

“Ironically, because the grocery market has never been more competitive, and despite the fact that income inequality has slowly improved, the gap between rich and poor this Christmas is the largest it has been since 2012.”

Dr Seaton has made a more in-depth analysis with a full breakdown of the prices on the Loughborough University blog.

Average prices for Christmas dinner for eight people

  • High-end: Waitrose and Marks & Spencer
  • Budget: Iceland, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl

“The graph above plots three important lines,” said Dr Seaton.

“The middle one traces the path of the average price of a Christmas dinner for eight people.

“Between Christmas 2012 and Christmas 2018, the trend is down – high £30s down to low £30s (though up slightly in the last two years).

“Importantly for us, if we look at the top path, the trend for the highest prices Christmas dinner (M&S and Waitrose) is down from the mid £50s to just over £40.

“For the lowest priced Christmas dinners, the trend is up – from around £20 in 2012, edging up to high £20s in 2018.”


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 18/171

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2018 QS World University Rankings, top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey and named University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019 and the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2019, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2019. It was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.