It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the costliest times: Christmas.
With billions spent by shoppers around Europe, the run-up to Christmas is one of the peak selling periods for retailers across the continent.
Based on projected retail turnover in the six weeks before Christmas 2016, the UK tops the bill with the equivalent of $94 billion (£75 billion) to be spent in that period. With giving often extending beyond just immediate family and friends, this is more than double the average Christmas spend across the rest of Europe.
Germany follows in second place, with $80 billion (£64 billion) forecast to be spent prior to the holidays. German parents also have to pay up twice in the run-up to Christmas: for Nikolaustag on 6 December, when children put their boots outside for St Nicholas (Santa Claus) to fill them with fruit, chocolate coins and small gifts; and then for Christmas Eve when the Christkind (Child Christ) delivers more substantial presents.
With over $70 billion (£56 billion) in expected retail turnover, France comes third in the ranking. The main Christmas meal is eaten on Christmas Eve, called le Réveillon. It includes the traditional Bûche de Noël, a chocolate sponge cake log. In addition to the Christmas holidays, the French also celebrate Epiphany (Fête des Rois, or Festival of Kings), marking the end of the 12 days of Christmas.
Italian retail revenues are less than half of the UK spend, at $45 billion (£36 billion), followed by Spain at $28 billion (£22 billion).
Although significantly smaller in numbers, the Dutch are expected to part with the equivalent of $14 billion (£11 billion), and Belgians will likely spend just under $11 billion (£8.5 billion) as they get ready for the Christmas holidays.
While most European countries’ retailers experience their busiest shopping days in the weeks just before Christmas, the UK’s busiest day for shopping during the last six weeks of the year is 27 December. So Britons continue spending after Christmas, which is when the retail sales start.