More than half of families in Wales plan to spend less money on Christmas presents this year as the rising cost of living continues to bite, an ITV Wales poll has revealed.
Foodbank use is now routine for a record number of Welsh households trying to make ends meet. Once an emergency stop gap measure, now they are struggling to meet rising demand themselves amid rising costs. People’s ability to donate is also being eroded by high inflation.Christmas is a key time of year for retail and hospitality - important employers in Wales. Cafes, pubs, shops, restaurants all need to make their money now to see them through the leaner months of the new year. But with disposable income hit, people are spending less on non essentials.
Many families have bought early this year or are buying less. Others are choosing second hand products - seen as good for the pocket and the planet.
Roksana Savchenko, originally from Ukraine, lives in Cardiff with her six-year-old son. She is unable to work because of a health condition and has had to pay particular attention to her budget this Christmas.
She said: "For Christmas I have already told my son that we're not going to decorate this year, especially with what's going on in Europe and the war in my home country. I don't think it would be the right thing to do and it saves money as well.
"I've managed to get Christmas presents for my closest way before winter started, I just got a few things in the summer sales. So that's ready, something I don't have to worry about."
She added: "I've really had to rethink where the money goes to."
"The more expensive things are out, the less expensive things in... money does not stretch as far any longer", she continued.
"I've stopped cooking on the gas cooker, most of my meals are now made in the microwave or the airfryer."
As we head into 2023 we are heading into recession. We face a new round of public spending cuts and the politicians have difficult decisions to make about who and what to prioritise. Other economists argue Austerity 2 won’t work and is a political choice, not a necessity.
The First Minister of Wales will deliver the Welsh Government budget next week promising to protect the most vulnerable. Meanwhile, 50 organisations from health professionals to charities are calling on Welsh Government to make tackling poverty the government’s number one, cross department priority.
The UK government says getting inflation down will make the most difference to people’s pockets. As strikes wage across nursing, postal and rail services, the UK Government is urging wage restraint - despite wages not stretching as far and support for striking workers holding up in Wales.
There is certainly no shortage of community spirit across the country this Christmas. Community and Faith groups are coming together and organising to meet need, close gaps and get through. A lack of money can lead to isolation and loneliness - people unable to join in activities as the cost puts them out of reach. This year, more than ever, Christmas is back to basics for many.
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