Austerity Christmas – Brits facing the grimmest December since WWII need to plan ahead, says ParcelHero

This Christmas is set to bring back memories of World War II. Some items, such as turkeys and eggs, are being rationed because of bird flu and an authoritarian ruler has invaded a fellow European country. In addition, Brits are braced for the tightest squeeze on real incomes since 1945.

There’s little wonder that, according to new research from the home delivery expert ParcelHero, Brits plan to spend £4bn less on food, gifts and entertaining over the Christmas season compared to last year. It will be a ‘make do and mend’ Christmas this year as shoppers face unprecedented household bills and soaring inflation.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: “For anyone old enough to remember the War, the mood will be grimly familiar. Back then, people had to cut their spending dramatically on gifts and food, and there was severe disruption to supplies and deliveries. That’s a problem that could be experienced again this Christmas because of strikes, delivery driver shortages and the closure of ports because of a resurgence of Covid in China.

“However, that doesn’t mean we will all be reduced to Christmas stockings full of nuts, knitted socks and an orange. There are ways for Brits to save enough money to have a decent Christmas, without resorting to dodgy deals with “spivs” (as war time black-market traders were known) or making their own board games.

“One great money saver that requires little more than good planning is to buy presents online earlier than normal and to send them earlier as well.

“Leaving enough time to buy online using slower free or low-cost delivery options can save pounds, rather than opting for expensive next-day deliveries. For example, for orders under £50 from John Lewis you’ll pay £4.50 for a standard delivery, which will take up to five working days. However, if you’ve left it late and want a next-day delivery it’s £7.50.  In fact, if you have really left things late there’s a pre-10.30am next-day delivery for £10.95. You’ll have spent £6.45 more than you needed to.

“Likewise, House of Fraser charges £4.99 for a standard delivery of 3-7 days, but £9.99 for a panic next-day option. That’s a fiver you could have saved by planning ahead. Leaving everything until the last minute soon adds up.

“One small piece of good news is that global shipping rates are very competitive now, and anyone looking to send a parcel abroad can make the most of this. Again, though, the earlier you send something, the more you will save. And you could be looking at savings of £20 or more.

“For example, if you are sending a parcel to the USA using ParcelHero, a 3kg parcel measuring 15x15x15cm costs from £32.80 for a slower service to £52.25 for a next-day delivery.

“That’s a further saving over traditional Post Office prices that, for the same-sized parcel, would be £44.85 for a 5+ days service, increasing to £72.70 for a 1+ days delivery.

“Similarly, the same parcel sent to friends and family in Australia would cost £43.83 for a 6+ days service from ParcelHero, but £47.90 for a 3-days service. Again, that’s still cheaper than joining the Post Office queue. Post Office services cost £59.85 for a 5+ days service, £61.85 for a 3+ days service and £88.80 for a 1+ days service to Australia. All parcel prices quoted are +VAT, a tax first introduced as a “temporary” measure during WWII incidentally, as Purchase Tax. Back then it was a tax on luxury goods of 30%.

“For Christmas 1941, even small packages to UK destinations had to be mailed by 20 December. Today, if you really must leave sending a parcel until the last minute, then “Keep calm and carry on”, as they might have said during the War. You can still send a parcel to a UK destination and even the USA until 23 December. So, at least some things won’t be quite so austere this year!

“For those who really have to leave buying and sending until the last minute, our continually updated Christmas deadlines tool is so useful for keeping shoppers in the know with all their favourite retailers’ final order dates.”