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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les Européens dépenseront moins pour les fêtes

by J.-P. P.

Europeans will spend less for the festive season.

Translated Thursday 20 November 2008, by Karen Singleton

According to a study, families are planning to reduce their Christmas budgets by up to 6%.

Europeans are going to tighten their belts for the end of year celebrations, intending to offer cheaper presents to less people. The festive food and drinks to be offered will come more from discount shops. This is according to a study, produced by the research organisation Deloitte, of 18 000 consumers in 18 countries during the period September to October. Families are planning to reduce their Christmas budgets (presents, outings and food) by up to 6%; this follows last year’s increase of 5%. This prudence is linked to the economic crisis that has drained the confidence of shoppers already worn down by cost increases in food and fuel at the start of the year. 60% of Europeans believe that the slowdown in the economy will continue in 2009. The French are revealed as the most pessimistic regarding their home financial situation for the next 12 months.

The most generous in Europe during the end of year celebrations, the Irish are planning to reduce their expenditure - a first for a country with a strong Christmas tradition. Even so, they still plan to give 668 euros worth of presents (7% down from last year), and spend 422 euros (2% down) on festive food and drinks. In total, they’re going to spend about 100 euros less than in 2007. The most spendthrift, the Germans, will only spend 401 euros (5% down). In France, where 9 out of 10 people believe the country is in a recession, the budget will drop 5% to 527 euros.

Only children are spared this pervading sluggishness. Parents will not balk at offering their younger offspring video games and consoles. They have promised to give their teenagers money, MP3 players, computer games and computers. In order to do this, special attention will be given to discounted products, a third of presents being bought during the sales or promotions.

The study also shows that food purchases have moved away from well-known brands towards cheaper discount and own brand goods. Green issues are no longer important as consumers are increasingly reluctant to pay more for products produced under good conditions (environmental, social…). Deloitte stress: “The only concern for 35% of shoppers is the price”.

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