Communion Day spend doubles, but children receiving less cash, survey shows

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The amount spent by parents on their child’s First Communion day entertainment has more than doubled over the past year while the children themselves are receiving slightly less cash but spending more of it, mostly on computer games.

Parents are spending a total of up to €860 on their child’s First Communion, an increase of 2% on last year, according to the 2018 Ulster Bank Communion Survey.

The largest increase was in the amount spent on children’s entertainment for the big day, up 106%, from €78 to €161.

Just over half (53%) of parents agree that there is pressure to spend as much money on the day as other parents. There has been a 73% increase in those who claim they would rather save the money for birthdays or summer holidays instead, from 30% to 52%.

While the spend on entertainment jumped, there was a considerable drop in the amount spent on hair and make-up (from €41 in 2017 to €35 in 2018, a 15% fall), as well as more modest year-on-year drops in spending on Communion outfits.

Communion Day has traditionally been the first time that children receive a significant amount of money. The amount received decreased slightly this year by 2%, from €570 per child to €558. One in five children (21%) received more than €800, and 68% of parents felt that their child received too much money. Girls received an average of €577 in 2018, an increase of 5% from €550 the previous year.

Boys, on the other hand, saw a drop in the amount they received in 2018 from €591 to €541 (down 8%).

Encouragingly, 95% spoke with their child about what they might do with Communion money. On an equally positive note, almost half (49%) of children shared some of their Communion money with their siblings or donated some to charity.

The 2018 Communion Survey shows that children have spent more of their Communion money, with parents reporting that of the total sum received, 39% had already been spent. This compares to 30% in 2017 and only 25% in 2016. 22% report that their child has spent more than 75% of their Communion money, compared to 11% of parents last year. Only 10% say their child has spent no money yet.

With the figures showing an increase in the likelihood of children to spend the money gifted to them, the survey also looked at what they were most likely to buy, with a 113% increase in the popularity of computer games.

“We learn habits at a very early age, and the savings habit is an important one,” said Elizabeth Arnett, head of corporate affairs at Ulster Bank.

A child’s Communion Day will likely be the first time they have received a significant sum of money, and it’s encouraging to see from the survey that 95% of parents talked to their child about the money they might receive and how they might use it.

“Advice like this is key and Ulster Bank helps to build on this through its MoneySense programme in schools around the country. According to the survey, almost six in 10 children already had a savings account with money received from Christmas and birthdays, so that’s a strong base to build on.”

A breakdown of Communion day spending reveals:

- Party/ refreshments: €349 (10% drop from €388 in 2017)

- Child’s outfit for the day: €162 (12% drop from €185 in 2017)

- Outfits for other family members: €153 (unchanged year on year)

- Children’s entertainment: €161 (106% increase from €78 in 2017)

- Make-up/hair (girls only): €35 (15% drop from €41 in 2017)

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