Financial pressures mount for generous retirees this Christmas

Article date: 30 November 2011

  • Almost half of over-55s say paying for Christmas is a significant strain
  • Despite the expense, generous retirees have no intention of holding back 

Christmas is well known to be a stressful time for many parents who want to give their children the latest ‘must-have’ presents, but new research from Aviva reveals the forgotten financial pressures placed upon some grandparents at this time of year.

With monthly household income for retirees dropping to a historic low* according to Aviva’s latest Real Retirement Report of £1,216, half of those aged 55 and older say they find Christmas a financially stressful time of year, with almost the same proportion (46%) feeling that paying for Christmas is a financial strain. Two in five go as far as saying that the financial pressures of the festive period take some of the enjoyment out of Christmas.

And the worries about how to pay for Christmas start well before the decorations go up. One in five (20%) start worrying by the end of the summer, and by Halloween, more than a third (36%) are concerned about how to meet bills. To help alleviate these concerns, more than half of all retirees have to save for Christmas in advance, with one third of those starting to save as early as January, even before the end of the previous festive season.

Festive food is another added expense for those in retirement. Almost two-thirds of grandparents (62%) feel it is their duty to host a family Christmas lunch, with a third (33%) wishing their children would take on more responsibility for organising and contributing to the Christmas meal for relatives.

Despite these financial pressures, retirees have no intention of holding back when it comes to buying presents for loved ones this year. Ninety per cent of those with grandchildren will be buying all of them presents, with over half spending £30 or more on each grandchild.  What’s more, almost two-thirds of retirees plan to spend even more on their grown-up children than on their grandchildren, creating a healthy pile of presents under the tree.

Clive Bolton, ‘at retirement’ director at Aviva, said: “The festive period is always a great opportunity for families to spend time together, with our research showing retirees have no intention of holding back in ensuring their children and grand-children enjoy the Christmas they wish. However, it is also worth bearing in mind that this time of year can bring its own financial pressures for many older relations, who are often on a fixed income. 

“Despite the current economic uncertainty, planning ahead and saving during the year can help ease the financial burden of Christmas for retirees. Even better, longer term financial planning can help individuals to better cope with pinch points such as this, at a time when ones extended family can often be at its largest.”


If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Tom Wilson: Aviva Press Office: 01904 692053:

Jess Geoghegan: Aviva Press Office: 01904 684128:

Methodology: 1,379 UK adults aged 55+ were surveyed by OnePoll in October 2011.

*Real Retirement Report September 2011. Average monthly income hits historic low of £1,216, down from £1,294 in June 2011.

Notes to editors:
Aviva is the world’s sixth largest* insurance group.  We provide 44.5 million customers with insurance, savings and investment products with total worldwide sales in 2010 of £47.1 billion**.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with over 14 million customers. Our combination of life, health and general insurance is unique in its scale and breadth in the UK market.  Customers can choose to buy our products through intermediaries, our corporate partners or from Aviva direct and we have become the partner of choice for many of the UK’s biggest organisations. 

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top ten most valuable brands and Aviva Plc are in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.  In 2010 we invested £4.3m into our communities in the UK, which included 1,500 Aviva volunteers giving 24,000 hours for good causes. In addition, our employees gave £600,000 through fundraising and donating. Read our corporate responsibility report at

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life. Find out more at

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*based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2010.
**at 31 December 2010.

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