Lower purchasing power this Christmas in Europe is putting a strain on many people’s gift budgets, but in France spending levels are around the same as usual.
While the average household budget for Europeans has dipped slightly, the French seem determined to keep it up, or even spend a bit more.
EU-wide, the spending average is down by almost one percent, to around 590 euros for Christmas 2012.
The sorest cuts are seen in the countries most affected by the debt crisis: Greece, Portugal and Spain. But in Germany, the Yuletide budget has risen by seven percent, ten times more than the French increase.
Keeping spirits up in the approach to the holidays is more than just about shopping, though. In Lisbon, the traditional festive lighting blitz is as bright as ever – to help morale.
In one mother’s opinion it goes a long way. She said: “I think the Portuguese need some joy, and downtown trade needs these lights, to get people out shopping.”
In neighbouring Spain this December, shoppers with jobs in the public sector are going without the customary pre-Christmas bonus, which has been abolished as part of austerity measures.
The sweets industry is expecting a ten percent fall in sales of the famous nougat and almond candy ‘turron’.
One vendor said: “A few years ago we’d sell it by the half-kilo, now we’re downsizing to slabs of 100 grammes.”
Buy less or look for bargains is an austerity-budget necessity for many shoppers: 90 percent of Europeans say they are making an effort to find special promotional prices. Last season it was 72 percent.
In Germany, shoppers with the freedom to celebrate may outspend their fellow Europeans more than ever.