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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.”

ENDS

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 18/171

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