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

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

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.