More than 60% of parents in the UK will be spending less this year on Christmas presents for their children, a survey by BookTrust has found, as it launches its Christmas appeal to provide young people with books.
The survey found that 59% of parents who celebrate Christmas have cut back on spending ahead of the festive season so they can afford to buy gifts for their children, but 62% still say they’ll be spending less than they usually do.
Diana Gerald, chief executive of BookTrust, said that “the last two years were tough, and the current cost-of-living crisis is putting additional stresses on family life and budgets”.
“Christmas is usually such an exciting time for children who celebrate it, but for those whose families are now having to make difficult financial decisions and are feeling the pressure of buying gifts, this year may be quite different,” she added. “Also when we think about the children living in care, there are added challenges for them, and some may be spending this Christmas away from their families for the first time.”
A number of reports and data releases have showed how the cost of living crisis is affecting families and children. Data released in October showed that nearly one in five families experienced food insecurity in September, according to the Food Foundation. Nearly 10 million adults and four million children were unable to eat regular meals in September.
And a review by Sir Michael Marmot, the director of University College London’s Institute of Health Equity, and Professor Ian Sinha, a respiratory consultant at Liverpool’s Alder Hey children’s hospital, found that cold homes will damage children’s lungs and brain development and lead to deaths as part of a “significant humanitarian crisis” this winter.
And earlier this year Rachel de Souza, the children’s commissioner for England, said that children were increasingly worried about the soaring price of basic essentials and the impact on their lives.
As well as questioning adults about their buying habits, BookTrust also polled 1,000 children aged between six and 16 about books. Of these, 53% of children said reading made them happy, with the same amount saying it was interesting, and 40% said reading made them feel calm.
Half of those who celebrate Christmas said they wanted to receive a book that makes them laugh, while 50% also said they want a book that takes them on an adventure. Just under a third (29%) want to get a book that helps them learn something new.
The survey comes ahead of BookTrust’s #JustOneBook campaign, in which people are asked to donate £10, which will provide festive book parcels to disadvantaged children and those in care.
Gerald said: “We want children to experience the joy of opening a present that is just for them. Through this appeal we aim to reach as many of these children as we can and give them the gift of laughter, new worlds and adventures that books can provide.”
Book parcels will be distributed across England, Northern Ireland and Wales through local authorities, local organisations and partnerships, as well as via community food banks in England.
The campaign is being supported by author Richard Osman, who said: “For me, the joy and escape of a good book has been life-changing. The magic of reading is for everyone, but unfortunately not every child will be lucky enough to experience it.
“This year more than ever, BookTrust’s brilliant Christmas campaign to provide surprise book parcels to thousands of disadvantaged children across the country is so important, and I am honoured to support it.”