Brits spend £1.9bn on lockdown household celebrations, American Express finds


With the first lockdown Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s no secret that COVID-19 restrictions have put a halt to many of our plans over the last year. However, new research from American Express (NYSE: AXP) reveals that over half of Brits (54%) haven’t let lockdown stop the fun, actively celebrating at least two special occasions with household members since the first lockdown in March 2020.

Brits looking to liven up lockdown have spent an average of £68, equating to £1.9 billion across the country, on items including food, drink and decorations, to celebrate occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, having a baby and graduating.

Top ways Brits celebrate at home

 Chosen way to celebrate during lockdown% of people that have celebrated this way
1Held a party at home with members of my household31%
2Decorated the house with balloons, candles etc.30%
3Ordered in a fancy, restaurant quality meal27%
4Organised a get together via a video call with family27%
5Organised a get together via a video call with friends20%

The research from American Express revealed that, for those who have spent more on celebrations during lockdown (since March 2020) compared to what they would usually spend when they could go out and about, the most popular motivation has been to make the occasion as special and memorable as possible.

In the age of social media it is perhaps unsurprising that 13% say that they have spent more on occasions in order to have photos to share on social media with friends and family.

Other reasons for splashing out include relieving boredom (30%) and having more disposable income to spend on special occasions (27%) because of lockdown restrictions.

Celebrations yet to come

The pandemic has certainly given Brits time to take stock and reflect on all things they may have taken for granted before COVID-19. Whilst two thirds of people are feeling disappointed that they couldn’t celebrate their special occasions in the ways they had planned over the past 12 months, nearly three in five (57%) agree that the restrictions brought about by the pandemic have made them realise they want to celebrate special occasions even more in the future.

American Express offers the following top tips on how to make the most of a lockdown celebration:

1.    No fancy restaurant? No problem! – Why not recreate that restaurant ambiance in your own home? Put on some background music, decorate your table with a candle and tablecloth and order in food from your favourite restaurant. Alternatively, look out for restaurants offering home meal kits that come complete with ingredients and instructions to make a knock-out meal.

2.    Dress up for a night on the (kitchen) tiles – With almost a third of Brits having held a party with members of their household, it goes to show that you really can’t beat celebrating in person. If you’re guilty of spending day after day in your tracksuit or lounge clothes, mark the special occasion by getting dressed up in your favourite outfit.

3.    Treat yourself with points and rewards – However you choose to celebrate your upcoming milestone moments, remember to put your spend on a Card that earns cashback, rewards or points for your purchases, which you can then use to treat yourself and your loved ones.

4.    Let them eat cake! – No celebration is complete without cake. If you’re living with a group why not host your very own bake-off? Or if you’re isolating on your own and don’t fancy a whole cake to yourself, cupcakes are a great bake for manageable treats that can be spread across the week.

5.    Housebound Treasure Hunt – Hiding treats around the house is a great way to get up and get moving, especially when there’s a tasty reward to be found! A perfect activity to occupy kids and the young-at-heart adults alike.