Brits set to spend £1.6bn on experience gifts this Christmas

Brits set to spend £1.6bn on experience gifts this Christmas

  • One in five Brits plan to buy experience-based presents for their loved ones this Christmas
  • The average adult will shell-out £129 on entertainment and events such as gigs, beauty treatments and adventure days over the festive season – a 115 per cent increase on last year
  • The rise of a generation that value experiences over material possessions is set to continue according to research by Barclaycard
  • Top reasons for opting for experiences include making memories, trying something new and buying for ‘those who have everything’

Brits are set to spend £1.6bn on experience gifts this Christmas in an effort to cater for a ‘got it all’ generation, new research by Barclaycard has found*.

The data shows that nearly one in five (19 per cent) Brits plan to choose an experience-based present for their loved ones, shelling-out an average of £129 each – a 115 per cent compared to last year.

The rise of the ‘experience economy’ has seen Brits favour spending their money on entertainment and events rather than material possessions**, with the research indicating that this now rings true for the presents we buy each other too. Almost half of Christmas shoppers fear that friends and family will be given the same gift twice (46 per cent), while 36 per cent worry that they will struggle to find the perfect present.

When it comes to the reasons for choosing experience-based Christmas gifts, the data shows making memories to be most important (18 per cent), while giving the recipient something to look forward to (17 per cent) and buying for ‘the person that has everything’ (15 per cent) were also taken into account. However, it seems an alterior motive could also be at play as a fifth (19 per cent) of Christmas shoppers confess they buy experience gifts in the hope they will be invited to take part in them too.

While often considered altruistic, millennials were shown to be considerate gift-givers, with 38 per cent admitting the main reason they buy experiences for their parents is to enjoy some quality time together.

Buying for those that have ‘got it all’

Gone are the days of writing wish lists full of clothes, tech and gadgets – 64 per cent of Brits do not plan to write a Christmas list this year, with 41 per cent preferring to buy physical items for themselves, and a third (33 per cent) feeling that they already own too many possessions. Over half (56 per cent) even admit they would rather receive experiences over material gifts because they’ve already ‘got it all’.

Some of the most popular experience gifts bought for others include live entertainment, such as theatre tickets (31 per cent) and concert tickets (26 per cent), spa and beauty treatments (27 per cent) and meals out & culinary courses (26 per cent).

The top 10 experiences Brits are gifting this Christmas




Theatre / comedy tickets


Spa / beauty treatments


Concert tickets


Meals out & culinary courses


Red letter day vouchers


Tourist attractions


Sporting event tickets e.g. rugby/football match


Adventure trips  e.g. skydiving, rock climbing


Cultural experiences, e.g. art gallery


Historical experiences, e.g. visiting National Trust sites

Sentimentality and social value

Perhaps surprising, it really is the thought that counts for Brits, as almost six in ten (58 per cent) feel the thoughtfulness of a present is the main factor to consider when gift-giving. A quarter (25 per cent) of us, feel sentimental value is also an important factor when receiving a present.  

Age was shown to play an important part when it comes to choosing the type of gift to buy this Christmas. Millennials were most likely to opt for an experience gift (33 per cent), especially for their mums (25 per cent), while concert tickets were found to be a popular choice for parents buying for their kids (56 per cent) – perhaps to give them something to look forward to in the New Year.

A further 13 per cent also admit they consider whether a gift they’re purchasing for a loved one will create exciting content for their social media channels, with millennials aged 25-30 more conscious of this than any other age group.

Daniel Mathieson, Head of Sponsorship at Barclaycard, said:

“Brits are fed up with receiving stockings full of socks or the same customary cosmetics and chocolates year after year, we now expect more from our loved ones. Not only do we want presents that provide entertainment, we want to create long-lasting memories too, meaning for many, physical items no longer cut-it as Christmas gifts.”  

“The emotion and excitement of giving and receiving an experience is something money can’t buy, particularly when it comes to activities that can be shared. What’s truly heart-warming though, is that people want to spend more time with their friends and family and are choosing presents they can enjoyed together while also providing something to look forward once the festive season is over.”

The research was commissioned by Barclaycard to mark its entertainment partnership with Live Nation which offers exclusive 2019 festival presales with 10% back at the checkout for each and every presale ticket bought through Barclaycard Entertainment.

Notes to Editors

* The survey of 2,000 British adults was carried out by OnePoll from 5/11/18 – 12/11/18.

£1,6bn figure calculated by multiplying the percentage of the population (18+) that expect to buy experience gifts at Christmas (19% = 12,540,000) with the average spend on experience gifts at Christmas (£129).

115% figure calculated by comparing the average spend on experience gifts in 2017 (£60) to the average. expected spend this year (£129).

** Barclaycard Experience Economy research - A nationally representative survey of 2,000 British adults and 250 businesses was conducted by OMD on behalf of Barclaycard between June-July 2018.

For further information please contact Rebecca Butler, PR Manager at Barclaycard on / 020 7116 1993 

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit and point-of-sale finance. In 2017 we processed over £250bn in transactions globally. Barclaycard is a pioneer of new forms of payment and is at the forefront of developing viable contactless and mobile payment schemes for today and cutting-edge forms of payment for the future. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.

Follow us on Twitter @BarclaycardNews

About Live Nation

Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV) is the world’s leading live entertainment company comprised of global market leaders: Ticketmaster, Live Nation Concerts, and Live Nation Sponsorship. For additional information, visit