Covid-19 has triggered a change in parent purchase patterns when it comes to giving children gifts and experiences.  Most physical, face-to-face parties and family celebrations having been cancelled in 2020 due to social distancing. 

Offspring have identified a shift in our attitudes to saving, with 39% of people saying they are trying to save more as a result of the pandemic.

1. Christmas 2020 will be different

Early indications are that Christmas 2020 will be very different when it comes to exchanging gifts. Parents are encouraging their children to think about experiences they’d like to have instead of creating Christmas lists of toys they will only use a few times.

Family and friends are increasingly being asked to contribute money to ‘social savings’ pots for specific goals, or give virtual gifts, rather than buying individual presents. A poll by Offspring shows that 35% of children will be asking for money as their main Christmas gift in 2020. This reflects a trend that Forbes magazine has also identified – “Parents are now preferring monetary gifts to toys, clothes, and other presents for their children over the holidays, and nearly half think that contributions to college funds would be valuable holiday gifts.”

2. Birthdays were different, too

This year has already seen a dramatic decrease in children’s parties and days out. Just over 60% of us have experienced celebrations by Zoom instead of face to face this year. With the average cost of a party estimated to be in excess of £300, and the cost of presents an additional £175 parents have been diverting what they would usually have spent into family savings.

3. Time together is more valuable

An analysis of savings goals on Offspring shows that parents are also requesting more experience-based gifts for their children which will be used in the future. There is less support for receiving one-off disposable or perishable gifts. 38% of people surveyed by Offspring say that they value experiences more now than before.

According to Offspring co-founder Avinash Rajan, families in the UK are changing the way they view money and how they talk about it to their children: “As any parent will tell you the preceding months or weeks up to a child’s birthday or Christmas can be full of excited discussion about what they want as presents – it’s often the latest computer game, pair of trainers or the big plastic toys which litter many of our households.

“Spending more time at home in our own space has made us aware of what we seem to collect, usually overflowing toy boxes and wardrobes of clothes we don’t wear. The pandemic has really focused a lot of people’s attention on what they value most – time together and shared experiences with families. We’re seeing a rethink about what’s important and where we choose to spend our hard-earned money.

4. Changing saving & gifting patterns

Offspring users are telling us they won’t go back to the old ways once the pandemic has passed. We are also witnessing how friends and family networks can play an important role in achieving savings goals together.

With an uncertain Christmas we are already hearing stories from users who are opting to save towards a bigger goal or experience for 2021. The pandemic has made us look beyond instant gratification and into the future. This is where we have seen the change in savings and gifting patterns.

Social saving, enjoyable experience

Catherine Ann, mum and founder of Life’s Back Up, from Berkshire, said that she used Offspring for her daughter Chloe’s 18th birthday: “Chloe celebrated her birthday while shielding earlier this year. To celebrate, her wish was an afternoon tea with those closest to her at The Ritz.

“Offspring made it so easy for friends and wider family to contribute towards saving for this special trip. They were also able to leave messages for her which we read out at the Zoom birthday party we organised. We can’t wait to celebrate this special birthday at The Ritz once it’s safe to do so, and have already agreed that Offspring is going to be perfect to save for her Christmas wish of a trip to Disneyland Paris.”

Tony from St. Albans said “I decided to set myself a goal of a special trip with my family (post lockdown) when I hit a certain business milestone. I have discovered that Offspring is a great way to save towards certain goals and to help bring these goals to life. The wider family will also be helping me achieve this goal by contributing towards it.”

Parents at Crossbow Pre-School, in Frampton Cotterell, raised funds for the school using Offspring.

Faye Quarry, Treasurer at Crossbow Pre-school, said “We are delighted to be using Offspring Saving for our fundraising. Offspring is such a simple and easy tool, that we share amongst parents and the community to reach our fundraising goals for resources for the children. I would recommend Offspring to any charity. It’s so easy to set up and use, and unlike other platforms, it’s free 👍

5. Continuing behaviour change

Another factor in the increasing use of social saving is the significant shift to online transfers and transactions with Covid-19 accelerating the move towards a cashless society as more consumers now rely on online ordering and money transfers to pay for goods and services. Offspring’s research shows 76% of people say they rarely use cash anymore since the start of the pandemic

Brad Goodall, CEO and co-founder at Banked, a digital payments platform powering Offspring, says: “Over the past eight months, due to the global pandemic, we’ve seen the adoption rate of digital payments greatly accelerate. From e-commerce shopping, online food ordering and mobile banking, all from the comfort of our homes, consumers are now fully embracing a new world of digital payments.”

What is Offspring?

Offspring, is an online social savings tool that allows most UK bank or building society accounts to be linked to a specific savings goal or target. These goals can then be shared widely to invite contributions from family and friends to help children build a savings kitty. Users can invite virtual gifts and contributions to a range of goals such as birthdays, music lessons, car deposit, teacher gifts or school fund raising, weddings and house deposits.