Kenyans care less about Christmas decorations but spend big on gifts

A woman wrapping Christmas gifts. [Getty Images]

What is Christmas without decorations?

If you are a fan of Hollywood motion pictures, and particularly animations, you might have come across the movie The Grinch.

It's based on a 1957 character on How the Grinch Stole Christmas created by Dr Seuss and portrayed by famous actor Jim Carrey.

The storyline is on how the Grinch hated Christmas season because of his tough childhood, so much that he sought to steal all the decorations in Whoville, in order wipe the holiday cheer out of their faces.

While the town of Whoville was heavily invested in Christmas decorations, the same cannot be said for Kenya, at least according to data from WorldRemit on how the world will be spending this holiday. According to this data from the global online money transfer platform, Kenya is one of the countries in Africa that will be spending less on decorations this holiday at 27 per cent.

This is while 40 per cent of the budget will go to gifts and 33 per cent on food. As such, it shows Kenyans' worry is not about decorations of a mystical creature dressed in a red suit, white beard, and a protruding belly or a plastic Christmas tree with fake snowflakes but literally how their stomachs will be filled after devouring an assortment of foods prepared for the festivities.

"The holidays are when we get to enjoy our favourite Christmas dishes. As mentioned, food takes up a huge part of the Christmas budget," the report reads in part.

The report surveyed 23 countries among them eight African nations.

Of the eight African countries, Ghana is the one spending the least on decorations at 17 per cent (just after Kenya's 27 per cent and Uganda's 23 per cent).

Interestingly, while Ghana spends the least on decorations, it is spending the most among the African countries on food at 60 per cent.

Uganda as well is spending 55 per cent while Kenya food expenditure this Christmas is at 33 per cent.

"Last year our study looked at 14 countries where the average bulk of costs went to food over the holidays. In 2022, we have seen an increase in prices for Christmas items for some of these 14 countries. We also added nine additional countries," reads the report in part.

It adds: "Of the 23 countries surveyed in 2022, developing economies like the Philippines, Uganda and Nigeria are likely to spend more than 100 per cent of their total monthly income on Christmas, while in the United Kingdom, Christmas will cost 65 per cent more than it did in 2021."

Of all the 23 countries, Ghana, an African nation is spending the most on food (60 per cent), followed by Uganda at 55 per cent and The Philippines at 51 per cent.

Households in the United States will spend most of their Christmas budget on gifts (72 per cent) followed by Germany at 71 per cent and Fiji 70 per cent.

The nation that will be spending most on decorations is Dominican Republic (77 per cent) followed by Colombia (66 per cent) and Guatemala (65 per cent).

The report acknowledges that decorations normally do not come cheap and the increased inflation witnessed this year will undoubtedly have an impact on how households will spend.

This is the same with gifts.

"Worldwide inflation will also hit Christmas shopping this year. According to the WorldRemit 2022 Cost of Christmas Study, many families around the world should expect to spend up to 156 per cent of their monthly income on Christmas this year, because of increasing inflation," the report reads.

Sh25,440 (USD 212) is the amount the average household in Kenya is spending this holiday season.

Of this, Sh8280 will be spent on food, Sh6,960 on decorations and Sh11,050 on gifts.

The report states that the Christmas items were selected based on desk research of typical Christmas meals, gifts, traditions, travel and decorations.

"We then researched the average price of each item for an average family on an average income. The prices were researched online mid October 2022," it adds. "Prices and breakdowns of what is appropriate for Christmas celebrations in each country were then shared with a local of that country who we hired to validate the data as correct, and where needed, made appropriate adjustments to the data."

Compared to last year, inflation rate heading to Christmas season in the country has almost doubled. From the numbers provided by Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), inflation as at November 2021 was 5.80 per cent compared to 9.48 per cent in the same month this year.

"In many countries, the average price tag on Christmas items like trees, candles and fairy lights, as well as foods - including the popular noche buena in the Philippines - have gone up," the report reads.

While during Christmas period one is likely to spend more courtesy of being possessed with the holiday spirit, there is no doubt that due to the increased inflation rate, pushed by the cost of commodities, most households will have to dig deeper into their hollow pockets to afford a decent celebration.

WorldRemit however advises against discarding a budget.

"It may be the silly season, but the last thing you want to do is leave budgeting out," the report says.

Creating a Christmas budget, says the report, will help one fully understand where their money is going and where the most spending is taking place.

"Try splitting the budget into food, gifts and decorations," it adds.

Households are also advised to make sure they include an estimate of the cost of each item so you have a good idea of how much you might have to spend on it.

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