THE cost of Christmas is set to rise by more than 10% above the rate of inflation this year — hitting families already reeling from the increased costs of home heating and fuel for their cars to get to the shops.

A package of essential festive items — including Christmas meals, presents, cards and stamps — that cost £436 last year has increased to more than £491.

The same package has risen by almost 19% over the annual inflation rate since 2007, showing that Britain’s consumers have been battered by consistent price rises for five years.

A survey by The Sunday Times suggests this Christmas will be the toughest yet for families. Bad summer weather and poor harvests will hit the price of Christmas food while increases by Royal Mail will send up the cost of exchanging greetings cards.

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