‘Apples’ are new satsumas as technology becomes stocking filler of choice this Christmas, Barclaycard finds

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Expensive technology is contributing to a rise in the value of the average Christmas stocking, with items such as smartphones, tablets, action cameras and fitness bands easing out traditional chocolate coins and satsumas as the go-to stocking fillers.

Research by Barclaycard, which has been at the heart of British shopping since 1966, reveals that parents will be splashing out an average £71 on their child’s Christmas stocking this year, peaking at £119 for a typical 15-year-old.

A quarter of us (26%) are considering putting technology and gadgets such as smartphones, tablets, action cameras and fitness bands into a loved one’s stocking this month, helping to drive up the cost to the highest in a generation. One in 10 11-year-olds will receive a smartphone, whilst a fifth of 13-year-olds will be lucky enough to receive music or stereo equipment, such as wireless speakers.

Though traditional items such as satsumas and chocolate coins are still common stocking fillers, their popularity is on the wane. Only one in five (20%) of today’s adults will pack a satsuma into a loved one’s Christmas stocking this year, whereas twice as many (45%) say they received one as a child. On the other hand, while only one in ten (9%) woke up to gadgets, technology devices and video games in their childhood stocking, one in five (19%) would put one of these items in a stocking this Christmas.

The research finds that we still spend money on Christmas stockings even after our loved ones grow up. Brits typically stop receiving a stocking at the age of 19, but one in ten adults over 30 (12%) will still receive one this year. Today’s parents have every intention of keeping the tradition alive even when their kids have fled the nest, with two-thirds (66%) saying that they will continue to spend money on their child’s stocking each Christmas, even as they reach adulthood.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, wives and girlfriends are much more likely to get a stocking for their other half than men are– over half (53%) of men will be getting a stocking from their partner, but only two in five (39%) women can claim the same.

How has the cost of our Christmas stockings changed over time?

Typical value of a child’s stocking in … Cost
2016 £71
2000s £66
1990s £72
1980s £41
1970s £32
1960s £22
1950s £18
1940s £15

The research from Barclaycard also finds that when it comes to choosing presents for their children, parents feel the force of pester power, particularly for much coveted on-trend items. Over a quarter (27%) of parents said they will buy an on-trend toy such as a Hatchimal or a Furby Connect Electronic Pet as they feel the pressure and a third (32%) say that they will buy an expensive gift or technological gadget this year because their child has talked about it for a long time.

Paul Lockstone, managing director at Barclaycard, said: “Whilst the tradition of the Christmas stocking may be hundreds of years old, their contents are rather more modern and have firmly kept pace with technology. This year’s lucky recipients are just as likely to pull out an Apple as they are a Satsuma, or find a Go-Pro alongside chocolate coins. Whilst this has pushed up the price, many parents and partners are happy to pay more to ensure that their loved ones don’t wake up on Christmas Day suffering from low ‘elf’ esteem!”

Anne-Marie O’Leary, editor-in-chief of Netmums, added: “For many families Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the traditional stocking, no matter how old we are. As we know from talking to parents, if children are used to seeing us using smartphones and tablets at home – common-place in most households nowadays – they’re bound to want to get connected themselves, which is why they’re increasingly making their way into Christmas stockings.”