1948: Sorry Wrong Number – Litvak
First Direct have published some research into Christmas present plans. The danger of any survey is what is read into the data, which in this instance was a survey of 1,000 people. The survey revealed that 280 people (28%) were expecting to receive money this Christmas – with an average sum of £83 each. This is a higher sum and greater proportion than the same survey last year.
The financial services industry, being keen to find a headline, interpret this as £1.2bn in cash gifts this year. However, by my maths I make 28% of a 62.3m population 17.4m people, each in receipt of an average £83 makes a sum of £1,447,852,000. A British £bn is meant to be a million, million or 1,000,000,000,000 (12 zeros). An American billion is a thousand million (1,000,000,000). So I guess the survey is either £247m  (American) off the mark or if you use the British £bn, then £1,198,552,148,000 off the mark… but hey what’s a few million in the detail!
Payyourway.org produce a similar survey but with rather different results – claiming that Christmas cash will be worth £2.4bn. Their survey found that 57% of the population plans to give an average gift of £88. Again, using 57% of a 62.3m population is 35.5m people with an average gift of £88 is £3,124,968,000. Ok, so not all of the 62.3m population is old enough to give money, but assuming an American £bn and an average of £88 given then that’s 27.272m people (43% of the population).
So as I hope I have demonstrated, I don’t pay much attention to surveys and believe that small surveys can be very misleading when attempting to apply the data nationally or globally. This is one of my main gripes about how the economy is valued, measured and planned. I know this may seem like splitting hairs when it comes to surveys about cash gifts at Christmas, but sadly when it comes to the information about the Eurozone and global economy we cannot afford to make such a hash with the numbers, the consequences are rather serious. After all, cooking a 4lb Christmas turkey will have a different impact on your family than a 40lb turkey and no one wants to look like one on the day!
Whilst I’m on the subject here are some recipes for Christmas turkey
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