The festive season is invariably an expensive time of year, but with so much attention levied at the cost of buying presents and travelling to visit loved ones, the financial hit of the food and drink is often overlooked – and it is a very indulgent time of year, after all.
Prices on the up
Good Housekeeping magazine carry out an annual food survey in which they pit the country’s 10 leading supermarkets against each other to find which offers the best value for money when it comes to the spread for the big day, based on a meal for 8 people that includes 11 classic components of a standard British Christmas dinner.
Even based on buying the cheapest goods available from each outlet, the average cost was reported to be a hefty 16% more expensive this year, with 9 out of the 11 individual components having shown a price hike, making this the biggest year-on-year increase since the survey began 9 years ago.
The findings are thought to reflect the general rise in food prices that the UK has seen throughout 2017 as a result of inflation, with the weak pound having forced up the cost of importing goods, and uncertainty over potential future trade deals for farmers and supermarkets alike in the fallout of the Brexit vote also making it difficult for companies to pitch their prices consistently.
It’s not all doom and gloom
Those looking to act on Good Housekeeping’s recommendations should know that Lidl was found to offer the most cost-effective meal overall this year, though Marks & Spencer is the only supermarket out of the ten examined to have lowered its prices compared to last year, offering its Christmas meal for a tasty 20% less than in 2016.
However, it’s also worth pointing out that whilst Good Housekeeping’s report certainly provides an interesting snapshot of the cost of Christmas dinner, it doesn’t provide the whole picture. Their comparisons are based on specific criteria (such as only accepting Maris Piper or King Edward Potatoes as opposed to lesser-known and potentially cheaper varieties), which means that taking the time to properly shop around and employing a frugal approach can indeed still lead to some handy festive savings; you just can’t afford to be a brand snob, and have to consider what you buy as much as where you buy it from.
So, whilst many of us tend to stick by our favoured supermarkets, brands and varieties, this festive season may well be the time when loyalty is left by the wayside and bargains lead the way in deciding where to shop.