The secret behind the sweet shopping habits of Brits over the festive period

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Birds Bakery will be baking over 500,000 products this year for Brits to enjoy over Christmas. Pic: Birds Bakery
Birds Bakery will be baking over 500,000 products this year for Brits to enjoy over Christmas. Pic: Birds Bakery

Related tags Birds Bakery Christmas Dopamine Sugar festive season Sweet bakery mince pies

As we enter the festive countdown, our craving for something sweet reaches fever pitch. But why do we splurge on sweet treats, especially at this time of the year?

Crooner Andy Williams hit the nail on the head in 1963 when he first sang ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’.

Christmas really is the time of year when most of us are able to stop what we’re doing and take time to enjoy the little luxuries – whether that’s shopping, spending time with loved ones or splurging on indulgent foods and beverages.

Birds Bakery – a proudly UK bakery that started from humble simple beginnings in 1919 to become an thriving business with 61 outlets employing over 750 people today – wanted to find out more about why Brits surrender to temptation.

Hap-happiest season of all

Winter snacking Christmas kids Siarhei SHUNTSIKAU
Pic: GettyImages/Santsikau

As the song says, Christmas is the ‘hap-happiest season of all’ – ​synonymous with the indulgent goodies that are guaranteed to spark a rush of instant happiness, courtesy of dopamine.

When we eat something sweet, the brain’s reward system – called the mesolimbic dopamine system – is activated.

Dopamine is the ultimate feel good chemical released by the neurons, triggering pleasurable sensations and signalling that the event was positive.

As such, treating ourselves isn’t limited to December alone.

When the reward system fires, it reinforces behaviours – making it more likely for us to carry out these actions again. In fact, a 2023 study carried out by YouGov revealed that approximately 37% of Brits buy something sweet at least once or twice a week.

“These stats highlight that while our intake may increase significantly at certain times of the year, we just can’t resist sugary food when we need a pick-me-up,”​ said Lesley Bird, CEO of Bird Bakery.

Marvellous mince pies

GettyImages-mince piece budgetstockphoto
Pic: GettyImages/budgetsockphoto

To meet the demand during the busiest time of the year, Birds Bakery will be making over 500,000 Christmas products this year, including 350,000 mince pies this year.

The classic mince pie​ took the title of the nation’s favourite sweet pie last year and enjoying them was listed as one of the most magical parts of Christmas, so it’s no surprise demand is so high.

As a bakery with over 100 years of experience, Birds has seen the rise and fall of bakery trends first hand. Lesley Bird, chief operating officer at Birds Bakery, commented:

“The bakery market is constantly evolving, but one trend we’ve noticed year on year is that people love to treat themselves and others,”​ said Bird.

“Like other retailers, we like to introduce seasonal product ranges alongside our classics, as we know our customers love a themed item – be it Christmas, Easter or Halloween.

“This year, our Christmas range includes a whole host of festive goods including chocolate Santas, Rudolph cupcakes and shortbread trees, which we’re delighted to see customers already enjoying.

 “We are excited to welcome both new and regular customers to our shops this Christmas, and hope they continue to treat themselves throughout the year. We all need that sweet boost every so often!”

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