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Founder of Uniquely Local Says This Christmas is all About ‘The Experience Economy’: Less Money = More Memories

Founder of Uniquely Local, Rachel Marshall

As people’s spending power is tightly squeezed and a more frugal festive period is predicted from experts nationwide shoppers from Yorkshire and across the UK have confirmed they will be tightening the purse strings this Christmas compared to the more lavish post lockdown spending of last year, and that it’s experiences that they want.

According to a national survey published by KPMG, a third of UK households are already trading down to cheaper products and making use of promotions, and a quarter said they were shopping at less expensive retailers.

A survey of Christmas Spending Habits, conducted by Yorkshire-based experiential gifting company, Uniquely Local, shows that their customers are of the same mind with the majority saying they will only spend between £30-£50 on close friends and family this year – with 24.5% saying their budget would be at the bottom end of this – £30, in comparison to last year’s Uniquely Local figures showing that the average order value was £86.90 last Nov/Dec.

“It’s clear that people want to spend less money, but what they do spend, they want it to be on experiences, so that we can enjoy life and moments, even as cost of living continues to rise…” said Founder of Uniquely Local, Rachel Marshall.

72% of those surveyed by Uniquely Local said that they would prefer to gift a food and drink experience with 50% saying they prefer a crafty or creative experience and 43% saying they would choose a health and wellbeing experience.

Leading Positive Psychologist, Niyc Pidgeon, explains that this all comes down to our inherent human desire to feel safe and that we have somewhere we belong: “When we are faced with change and uncertainty we can find grounding through connecting with ourselves and with other people. We spent so long in isolation during lockdowns we are now seeking more in person connection. This Christmas will be all about connection. Positive relationships allow us to feel supported, seen and heard, and through sharing experiences together we can build bonds, deepen relationships, and feel more secure and stable no matter what goes on in the wider world…

“When our attentions might be drawn to having to budget, we can often associate negativity with this because it suggests we are losing something, sacrificing, or missing out. Our opportunity lays in re-orienting our focus to what we can, in fact, gain through times of transition. Joy, gratitude, and love are always free – and there’s so much we can create that recognise the value in presence, simplicity, and working with what we’ve got.

“Mental health is both a challenge and an opportunity right now – and reminding ourselves of our power to take control and focus on what’s good is a great way of staying positive in difficult times”

Following their survey results Uniquely local have taken on board what their customers are asking for and have published a round up of their budget friendly experiences in ‘Top 30 Yorkshire-based Experiential Gifts for Under £30’; these include Vineyard and Brewery tours to Alpaca Morning Walks, Cosmetic Making Workshop to Clay DIY gift packs, Superhero Photoshoots to Bird of Prey flying experiences.

Rachel said: “We are all responding where we can – altering how much we buy, what we buy and where we buy it. The festive focus this year needs to be on spending less but gaining more. People don’t want to spend as much money on gifting as they may have done previously, yet they are still craving connection and experiences together for ‘life appreciation’.

Rachel adds: “Even the big name retailers are responding to the newly named ‘experience or moments economy’, with companies like John Lewis positioning themselves as being there “for all life’s moments”, as they too adapt to the shift in consumer spending habits.”

‘Uniquely Local’ was originally founded by friends Rachel Marshall and Ema Broadhurst, in 2016 both full-time mums living in North Yorkshire with young families. The idea for Uniquely Local came from their own desire to find interesting, memorable experience gifts that they’d be pleased to receive.

Rachel continues; “We wanted to find quality alternatives to giving more ‘stuff’ and set out to find gift experiences that would create lasting memories and this year we’ve gone even further with making these accessible to all- an approach that sets us apart from other experiential gifting companies who promote more exclusive and expensive experiences. We are delighted to be able to showcase the huge range of what Yorkshire has to offer as part of this, to encourage more people to come and explore our region.

“Reining in your spending doesn’t have to mean terrible gifts… actually some of our experiential offers could make for a happier Christmas, with many moments to look forward to in 2023. I love living in Yorkshire and as a business we are proud to promote unique and exciting experiences in this special area of the UK. We love the idea of our customers discovering hidden gems on your doorstep.”

You can also gift some Uniquely Local Gift Vouchers – these are the perfect solution when you just can’t make a decision about which Uniquely Local gift experience to buy. It’s the thoughtful gift choice that doesn’t tie you down to one particular package – these are available in denominations from £10 to £300 and are valid for 18 months from date of purchase so the lucky recipient will have plenty of time to choose an experience.