How Sheffield parts with its silver: Shoppers at the city's Meadowhall mall tell Esther Oxford what they are splashing out on

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The Independent Online
Kevin Bennett, 33, sales manager, and his daughters Zara, six weeks, and Danielle, six, are on a day trip from Leicester.

WE'VE been here since 9.30am. What's in my bags? Books for the adults, clothes and jewellery for the wife. We did the children's presents last weekend - one of those organised shopping trips laid on by the workplace. We've probably spent pounds 400 to pounds 500 on my parents, the in-laws, our two children and a couple of friends.

This year our daughter asked for an expensive television. We said no. Ours is a big family and the amount spent can get obscene if we are not careful. Our in-laws will be staying with us so the cost of entertaining them will probably be more than the cost of all the presents put together. If I hadn't been promoted this year, I don't think we'd have been able to cope.

Hayley Maw, 29, from Sheffield, with Beky, her Baby. She is a housewife.

We've probably spent about pounds 200 to pounds 300 so far. That is just on two children. But we don't budget when it comes to Christmas. We just spend and then hope for the best. We have no difficulty deciding what to get our two children. The baby is easy enough, and my little girl just looks through the catalogue and then asks for whatever she wants. She tends to want a lot of things. We listen and then surprise her.

Sometimes she asks for expensive toys - this year she set her heart on a carry-cot and a doll's pram. We were not afraid to say no - we just can't afford it. Instead we bought her a doll's high chair, and all the accessories.

My husband? He will just have to wait until last. I'll see how much money I have left.

'The True Ravers' are from Sheffield. Arran Brazier, 15, attends school; Phil Walsh and Dale Roe, both 17, attend college; Danny Hyde, 15, attends school and works part-time in Woolworth: We are shopping for girls. That is what we've come for - gorgeous girls, the odd fight, oh, and a few clothes. Two of us used to have jobs here as shop assistants on a YTS scheme. We used to meet up at lunch and look for girls. The technique is to stand and stare at them.

Phil: I suppose we're all hoping for money and Nintendo computers for Christmas - oh, and girls, too. We usually get about pounds 200 worth of presents from our parents. My mum and dad really go out of their way to get me what I ask for - although it's usually a second-hand version. But I'm trying not to ask for too much this year. My dad's a bit hard up.

I'm buying a necklace for our lass. And underskirts for my mum - they are about pounds 4 each. Danny here is getting see-through lingerie for his girlfriend, curling tongs for his mum and a computer game for his brother. He has lots of money, see, he works in Woolworth.

Maureen Gatt, 34, local government officer in Wakefield, and her husband, Ashley, 38, a consultant in systems engineering: In this bag we've got a model-car kit for my nephew - and a few clothes for me. In fact, most of these bags are full of clothes for me. I suppose we have spent pounds 700 to pounds 800 on presents, easily. We have quite an extended family. The recession hasn't affected us, you see.

Yvette Hunt, 23, a shop assistant from Sheffield: I'll probably spend about pounds 10 each on my family and about pounds 3 on friends. I have only got this job temporarily, so I can't afford more. Ideally, I would spend less, but my boyfriend is spending pounds 10 on each person. I can't be seen as mean. I don't get any joy from giving or receiving - in fact, I would prefer to give the whole thing a miss. I lost a child just before Christmas, two years running. Miscarriages. That and being unemployed makes the Christmas season pretty horrible. I hope I will feel differently once I have children.

(Photographs omitted)

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