Coronavirus: Brits to spend £487m on thanking key workers

Saleha Riaz
·3-min read
a mature woman presenting her friend with a birthday gift before sitting down for lunch in a restaurant together.
One in five Brits are more likely to gift thoughtful and considerate presents this year and 16% are more likely to be buying sustainable presents compared to last year. Photo: Getty Images

Brits will spend £487m ($653m) on Christmas gifts for key workers to show their appreciation for their hard work this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, new data shows. There has also been an increase in buying gifts for themselves, and supporting small businesses.

Online marketplace notonthehighstreet commissioned YouGov to carry out a survey of 2,010 UK adults in October which found that “with a more thoughtful approach to what and who is being gifted, the nation is also set to spend on those outside of friends and family more than ever,” including essential workers.

Key workers are those whose jobs are considered crucial to public health and safety during the pandemic. These include people working in the health and social care sector, as well as those in education, childcare, public safety and national security.

The report also found searches for ‘thank you gifts’ have risen 211% since the start of November.

One in five (19%) Brits surveyed are more likely to gift thoughtful and considerate presents this year and 16% are more likely to be buying sustainable presents compared to last year.

Another trend noted was that around 4 million adults (8% of the British population) are more likely to spend on a gift for themselves in 2020, compared to last year.

READ MORE: Morrisons extends 10% discount to more key workers

Britain’s students believe they are the most in need of a self-gifting pick-me-up, with a quarter (24%) planning to buy themselves a present this Christmas.

One in 5 (22%) respondents said they are more likely to buy from a small business this season compared to last. And it’s millennials and younger customers that are championing shopping small the most, with almost a third (31%) of both 18 to 24 year olds and 25 to 34 year olds agreeing they are more likely to buy small this year compared to last, more than any other age group.

Ella d’Amato, chief commercial and marketing officer at notonthehighstreet, noted that “the difficulties the UK has seen this year have massively impacted what we’re gifting, who we’re gifting and how often we’re doing it. People are recognising the impact of receiving a gift to appreciate those who support us through tough times - not just our loved ones and community heroes, but ourselves, too.”

Back in April, it was reported that a third of people classed as key workers earn £10 an hour or less.

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies said in a report that food and social care employees are lowest paid and hourly wages of key workers are 8% lower on average than other workers.

"Key workers are essential to the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they have certainly earned our gratitude. Compared to similar workers in non-key occupations, the average key worker earns around 9% less per hour,” Christine Farquharson, a senior research economist at IFS, had said at the time.

Meanwhile, a report from last week suggests that nearly half of Brits do not have a budget in place for their Christmas shopping this year, with many likely to rely more heavily on debt.

On average, Brits expect to spend £285 each on Christmas presents this year, – down just 5% from £299 in 2019. However, 45% do not have a budget in place for their festive shopping this year, according to a survey of 1,754 UK adults by personal finance platform NerdWallet.

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