The Gumtree Blog


Tuesday 12 December 2017, by
  • Obligation nation: 16% feel obliged to buy presents for certain family members
  • 61% don’t enjoy giving presents because of the pressure to get something ‘perfect’
  • Five festive gifts: Five is the number of gifts Brits would like to receive


New research reveals Britain is a nation of anxious gift-givers, with festive shoppers feeling both anxious and pressured to buy the ‘perfect presents’ for loved-ones this Christmas, spending almost £150 on their closest family members. Yet for nearly two thirds (61%) say the joy of gifting has gone due to the pressure they feel to get the perfect present.


However, whilst people are desperately worrying about what to get their loved-ones, they should be reassured that the age-old adage ‘it’s the thought that counts’ remains true, with 47% of Brits stating that a thoughtful gift was the best kind of gift to receive.


The Giving: Britons festive gifting habits

The study of 2,000 British adults by Gumtree looked at the gifting behaviour of people in the UK found that shoppers are planning to spend the most on their partners (£147) and children (£145), gifting three and four presents respectively, followed by other family members.


Average Spend & Number of Presents Bought:

Significant Other Average Spend Average Gifts Given 
Partners £147 3
Son £145 4
Daughter £145 4
Mother £75 2
Father £71 2
Brother £56 2
Sister £56 2
Uncle £45 1
Aunt £45 1


The Receiving: Gifting rules

For those worried about what to get their loved-ones this Christmas, Gumtree have identified what people would really like to help take the stress out of festive shopping. The study revealed Brits are hoping to receive five presents (on average) this Christmas, with one in three (33%) admitting they worry when they feel people have spent more than they could afford, and feel overwhelmed when they receive more presents than they were expecting.


Presents on Brits’ wish lists this Christmas include money and vouchers (39%), clothing, footwear and accessories (27%) and beauty and fragrance (22%). Festive chocolates, cooking sauces and chutneys are also high on the list (16%), followed by DVDs, computer games and books (14%) and alcohol (14%). Other more unusual gifts include limited-edition and one-off items (5%) as well as antique and vintage items (3%).


Top 10 gifts Brits want this Christmas

  1. Vouchers – 39%
  2. Clothing, footwear, accessories – 27%
  3. Beauty and Fragrance – 22%
  4. Food (chocolates, cooking sauces, chutneys) – 16%
  5. DVDs, computer games, books – 14%
  6. Alcoholic drinks – 14%
  7. Personal gadgets (smartphones, tablets) – 13%
  8. Homewares (candles, picture frames) – 12%
  9. Home electronics (TVs, AV) – 9%
  10. A limited-edition, one-off item – 5%


Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “Choosing the right Christmas gift can be difficult and the results of Gumtree’s study suggest that it’s causing a great deal of apprehension and anxiety for some. Fortunately, these findings, coupled with previous studies into gifting, provide some basic guidelines we can all follow:


  • Surprisingly, research has shown gifts which reflect the personality and interests of the giver (giver-centric gifts) tend to be more appreciated than recipient-centric gifts, where we often second guess what the recipient might like.
  • Some of the guess-work can be removed by just asking what the recipient might like. Studies show that, while gift-givers assume people will like requested and unrequested gifts equally, recipients in fact show a clear preference for gifts they have asked for directly.
  • Giving money in place of a Christmas gift is a bad idea as it fails to convey intimacy between the giver and the recipient. Giving gift vouchers may be a good idea instead, as highlighted by the findings of Gumtree’s study.

“Beyond these tips, research also suggests that we appreciate gifts that illustrate true sacrifice in terms of time and effort. We might think that expensive gifts are appreciated more than inexpensive ones, but in reality it’s the thought or the sacrifice that has gone into obtaining that special gift – that matters most.”


Hannah Wilson, Head of Marketing at Gumtree, said: “When it comes to festive gifting, we hope this study shows that it isn’t the money spent or the amount of presents that is important, it’s about being thoughtful, be that through getting a unique experience or voucher for something you know your loved-one will enjoy, or finding a vintage handbag that perfectly suits their style. We want to help people focus on the important things this Christmas and hope this study takes some of the pressure off people who are worried about how much they have to spend to impress.”


About the research

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Opinium. Total sample size was 2,092 UK adults aged 16+. Fieldwork was undertaken between the 10th until 14th November 2017.


For more information, please contact:


Fergus Campbell


M: +44 (0) 7825 682372



Jon Green

Anglia Ruskin University



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