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Debenhams reports nativity costs soaring for competitive parents


Debenhams has reported that the trend for designer donkeys, Virgin Marys and Josephs is stronger than ever, with competitive parents splashing out up to £150 to ensure that their youngster is the brightest star in the nativity play.

Grandma’s chequered tea towels and chintzy tinsel from last year’s tree are just not good enough it seems, as parents shape up their shepherds using the finest of materials. Designer chinos, shearling throws and fine silk party dresses are instead adorning this year’s cast in community centres, churches and school halls for the annual nativity play.

Debenhams has briefed sales staff and personal shoppers in stores to encourage parents not to spend hundreds making their child a couture King, but instead to embrace the season of goodwill and create costumes out of old sheets for the angels, painted cardboard stuck to headbands for the star and Dad’s old stripey pyjamas for the Shepherds.

Michelle Dowdall at Debenhams said: "Our personal shoppers are urging parents to have a little Christmas spirit, and spend time with their child making a DIY costume. Despite this, we are still seeing some people fork out the price of a flight to Bethlehem on making their son or daughter a model mule.

"It’s crazy that at a time where the majority of us are watching our pennies, some parents think there’s only room at the inn for designer donkeys.

“We thought it was odd, and might be a one-off last year, but some parents are still spending hundreds on their child’s nativity outfit. It’s silly and we’re trying to help competitive parents see sense and go back to the traditional tea towel on the head.”

Debenhams first noticed the trend, nicknamed “Manger Chic”, last Christmas during the start of nativity play rehearsals. Stores were inundated with requests for advice on how to create the ultimate Nativity Play character.

Brand new designer dresses, luxury velour striped robes, Egyptian cotton towels and bedding plus lavish warm fleece coats are just some of the items in demand. The trend to spend more seems to be worse for the lesser roles, such as the humble sheep and goats.  

Michelle Dowdall continued: “Some feel they have to make a big deal of the costume as their child is playing a minor role. While most parents want simple advice on how to use craft materials with household items to make a modest sheep, others seem dead set on the idea that their child’s outfit will outshine the Star of Bethlehem.”

Parents are keener than ever to instill a sense of ambition in their children from a very early age. Miss Dowdall added: "The demand for places at good schools and universities seems more on the agenda now than ever before. Parents have even commented to store staff that they feel they have to encourage their children to be the best from a very young age.

"It may be a reaction to the change of government and recent recession. Parents are more anxious about their children’s futures now than ever before.

“Our personal shoppers are of course on hand to give parents advice if they are unsure about how to create their child’s nativity character without breaking the bank.”

About Debenhams:
Debenhams is a leading department stores group with a strong presence in key product categories including women’s and men’s fashion, kids clothing, home, perfume gifts and health and beauty.

Debenhams is the second largest department store chain in the UK.

Debenhams operates 167 stores in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Denmark, comprising 154 full department stores and 13 Desire by Debenhams stores, which is a small store concept featuring an edited product range. Debenhams also has 60 international franchise stores in 23 countries.

PR Contact:
Carie Barkhuizen
Debenhams PR Manager
33 Wigmore Street
020 7408 3298


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