Brits spend 26 times longer shopping for Christmas gifts than annuities, says Aviva

Article date: 19 December 2009

  • Finding the right annual holidays seen as more important than the right retirement deal

Brits spend up to 26 times longer shopping for Christmas gifts than they do looking for the best deal on their retirement income, according to latest research from Aviva.

On average, UK adults spend three days, six hours and 35 minutes1 per year shopping around for Christmas presents for their loved ones, pets and even their bin collectors. This amounts to six months over a lifetime2. In comparison, research showed proved that Brits spend just seven days in total shopping for the right annuity or pension product.

Women in particular spend longer shopping for Christmas presents for their nearest and dearest. A third (36%) would spend more than one week each year, equivalent to more than one year and three months over a lifetime3, compared to 55% who spend just one week or more choosing a lifetime financial product.

The annual holiday is one of the most important purchases with more than half of adults (55%) saying they would spend over a week researching, in the process consulting at least four or five sources of information before booking.

Over a lifetime, the average time taken by UK adults to make important purchases is:

  1. Annual holiday – 311 days
  2. Insurance eg car or home – 282 days4
  3. Service from a utility provider – 246 days 5
  4. Christmas presents – 190 days
  5. Pension or annuity – seven days.

Research shows that UK adults are aware of the need to shop around when it comes to buying financial products. Despite pensions and annuities receiving the least amount of time to purchase, almost half (43%) would consult over 11 sources of information before buying. A third (31%) of adults would refer to five sources of information when purchasing car or home insurance. 

Darren Dicks, head of annuities for Aviva, said: “It’s great to see that people are becoming more savvy as consumers and shop around to get the best deal. However, it’s worrying that we might spend more time choosing Christmas presents for our dog than we would finding the best product to see us through the whole of our retirement!

“At Aviva, we encourage people to spend time when thinking about their future, as this can make a dramatic difference to their retirement income.

"It's important that customers get the best advice and find the right solutions to help them increase their income in retirement. By shopping around for an annuity, people can increase their retirement income by 10% or more. If people invest time in planning for retirement sooner than later, as well as getting sound financial advice, they can prepare for the retirement they deserve.”

People thinking about purchasing an annuity are advised to either speak to an independent financial adviser or contact Aviva on 0800 056 1643.


* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Pollab Limited. Total sample size was 1037 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken during December 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures are representative of the UK population. 

** All figures do not include "don’t knows" or "not applicable".

1 Formula for average number of hours shopped per year for important purchases:
- Midpoint of the time it takes x percentage of people that purchase (expressed as a number) = sub total
- All sub totals added = total
- Total / total number of participants who have purchased = Number of hours of shopping
- Number of hours of shopping / 10 hour shopping day = average amount of time that UK adults spend shopping per year.

2 Figures relating to "lifetime" are worked out using figures from ONS. Average UK adult life expectancy is 79 years. Women’s is 81 years. Men’s is 76 years.

Formula for average numbers of hours shopped over a lifetime for important purchases:
- Average number of days that UK adults spend shopping per year x 61 (number of years spent shopping) = number of days
- Average number of hours that UK adults spend shopping per year x 61 (number of years spent shopping) = sub total / 10 (10 hour shopping day) = number of days and hours
- Average number of minutes that UK adults spend shopping per year x 61 (number of years spent shopping) = sub total / 60 (minutes ) = number of hours and minutes
- Days + hours + minutes = average number of hours shopped over a lifetime.

3 Based on women buying Christmas presents from the age of 18 to 81 = 63 years.

4 Based on the adult driving from 17 to 79 = 62 insurance purchases.

5 Based on an annual review of utility providers.

For further information:

Aviva Press Office
Sarah Poulter
Telephone: 01904 452828 / out of hours 07800 691569 

Notes to editors:

About Aviva
Aviva, the international savings, investments and insurance group, is the world’s fifth largest insurance group, serving 50 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. 

In the UK, Aviva is a leading provider of life, pensions, investment, general insurance and health products to more than 20 million customers. Aviva also provides roadside assistance through the RAC. Products are distributed through a number of channels including IFAs, brokers, corporate partners and direct to customers via the internet.

Aviva's UK Insurance business has a market share of around 15%, making it the largest general insurer in the UK. The business is focused on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

Aviva's life and pensions business in the UK has a total market share of 12% and a top three position in its key markets of savings, protection, and annuities.

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