Pick your own Christmas hamper- and avoid the £50 mark up

22 December 2014

waitrose hamperFor some people, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a proper Christmas hamper- either that or it’s a useful fill-in present for that mouldy relative you can never think what to buy for. However, much as anything intended for a wedding often suffers from an immediate price rise, it seems some scurrilous retailers are also whacking huge mark ups on Christmas hampers- leaving you paying up to 300% of the RRP of the products contained inside.

An investigation by Telegraph Money has found some examples of hampers that contain a seasonal extra charge for this special time of year. Take the Selfridges “Festive Tea Time” hamper, which costs £65 for 40 teabags, a packet of shortbread biscuits, jam and a fruit cake. To buy these individual items from Selfridges would still cost a sizeable £37.94 and Selfridges says that the wicker basket that the products are sold in, which is made in China, costs a convenient £12.06. However, Selfridges say that the extra £15 charged for the hamper covers hand-packing and the costs of running a "special customer hotline" for hamper purchases. It's not just extra profit at all.

Slightly cheaper at £50, the contents of the Waitrose Duchy Originals Gift Box, for example, could be purchased separately for £17.06  and includes tea, jam, biscuits and cake from the organic royal brand. In return for paying £32.94 extra, you get a "delightful gift tray”, which is basically a cardboard box. A spokesman said that the store's hampers are popular with shoppers and "reflect the selection, packaging and presentation of the included products, along with free next day delivery. Again-no extra profit to be seen here.

But the worst offender is the £75 "Cheese Lovers" hamper from M&S, which contains a bottle of bordeaux with biscuits and three cheeses, "hand packed in a Rattan Tray". If you bought the closest contents separately you would actually pay around £25.99- with the £49.01 markup sufficient to buy an entire six-bottle case of Classic Claret Bordeaux and still spend less. An M&S spokesman said: "The price is reflective of the amount of effort that has gone into each hamper; every item is carefully selected to compliment (sic) the other contents." The spokesman also stressed the "pretty wicker hamper or box" that the products are displayed in, "which can then be used afterwards".

But what can you do if you have to have a hamper? Our old friends at Aldi and Lidl, as well as Sainsbury's, actually give you the option of building your own hamper, where popular Christmas products are grouped together and you just pay for those you select individually. You can then put them into a wicker hamper for just £7.99 at Aldi, although you will have the added inconvenience of selecting only the items you actually want in a hamper, and having to pick them up and put them in there, by hand, yourself. A sample hamper from Aldi- including non-cardboard basket- cost just £26.99.

Alternatively, if you don’t mind eye-watering prices for Christmas hampers, why not try “The Decadent” from Harrods. A snip at a mere £20,000…

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