Generous adults in the UK are set to spend £163.44 on ‘little treats’ for friends and family this year – to show they are thinking of them from afar, according to a study.
Thoughtful consumers are on track to buy as many as 53 small gifts for others by the end of 2020, with chocolates, flowers and alcohol, topping the shopping list.
Two thirds said giving little treats has been especially meaningful this year because they have not been able to see loved ones as often as they would have liked.
The M&S Bank poll, of 2,000 adults, found the most popular pick-me-ups to purchase for others are chocolates (44%), flowers (34%) and a bottle of wine (27%).
While a cup of coffee, tea or hot drink from a café (19%), scented candles (13%) and cakes fresh from the bakery (17%) have also been favoured this year.
A desire to brighten up the day of loved ones (46%) – during what’s been an unusual 12 months – is a major factor behind this ‘mini treat effect’ trend.
This is followed by wanting to show someone they’re thinking of them (44%) or because they have missed seeing them in person (38%).
Almost three in 10 (28%) said buying treats for others makes them feel happy and 23% said it makes them feel loving or caring.
Shoppers aren’t just sharing gifts to cheer up their loved ones as almost a quarter have let friends and family know they are thinking of them by sending cards.
While a third have sent pictures and videos over email or social media, 15% have sent a handwritten letter and a fifth (20%) have surprised them with a video call.
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Psychologist Emma Kenny said: "Psychological research has long shown the importance of acts of kindness, whether that be sharing a loving note or sending a bunch of flowers to a friend.
"Taking the time out of your busy day to show someone you care can not only positively impact the recipient, but also help to improve your mood too.
"That’s why, in these uncertain times, the need to practice caring – and self-care – has never been greater.
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"This mini ‘treat effect’ we are seeing is so important for yourself and for your loved ones.
"For example, having plans to look forward to can help to reduce stress and lift your mood, which is why something as simple as a coffee date with a friend – albeit virtually – can make a big difference to your day."
The research into the mini treat effect revealed that adults are also on track to spend an average of £180.48 on themselves this year, buying as many as 56 items.
The most popular items to purchase for themselves are chocolates (45%), takeaways (33%) and a cup of coffee, tea or hot drink from a café (29%).
Top 20 treats for others
3. Bottle of wine
4. Sweets or other confectionery
6. Cup of coffee, tea or hot drink from a café
7. Cakes from a bakery
9. Scented candles
11. Other alcohol
12. Ice cream
13. Savoury snacks
14. Perfume/ aftershave
15. Luxury ready meals
16. Movie rentals
17. Other clothing
18. Body/ hair products
19. Hobby items (including car accessories)
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