Holiday Spending Survey: Anxiety Over the Economy Tempers the Holiday Shopping Frenzy For Some, Others Still Splurge

Mirela Mohan

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for most retailers in the US – and across the world for that matter. This year, however, the sound of cash registers will be reduced significantly. Instead, shopping will be done online now more than ever. As the world is faced with pandemic-related challenges, many people plan to cut down on usual holiday shopping, stripping purchases to essentials and re-organizing priorities.

But is there still room for some holiday cheer, exchanging gifts and stimulating the economy in the process? Who is going against the odds and is planning a “close to normal” holiday season?

Our research team at STORAGECafé conducted a survey that investigated people’s attitudes towards holiday-related spending in 2020. As we went through more than 2,000 responses, we were able to identify some interesting facts:

  • 49% of holiday shoppers intend to spend less this year with 32% of respondents planning to avoid holiday shopping altogether

  • Americans plan to spend $767 on average for holiday shopping

  • 1 in 2 Americans intend to spend less than $299 on non-gifts for family and household purchases

  • About 40% of respondents anticipate spending less than $299 on gifts this holiday season

  • Only 6% of shoppers account for “big spender” habits, with planned gift expenses in excess of $2,000

  • Clothing, footwear and accessories are the most popular gifts to give, but home décor and jewelry are also on the regular gift shopping lists

  • 1 in 3 Americans plan on spending most on their children and the least on co-workers and other people

  • About 50% of respondents plan on using monthly income to cover the cost of holiday shopping

  • Secret Santa grinches rejoice: nearly 70% of respondents will not engage in Secret Santa activities

32% of Americans planning no holiday shopping with 49% of holiday shoppers intent on spending less this year

This holiday season is the most irregular in recent American history, to say the least. Ever since 2008,  holiday budgets had been gradually growing Y-o-Y. This year, only 10% of respondents say they plan to increase their holiday spending budget. More than one in three Americans (32%) declare they intend to do no holiday shopping this year and almost one in two Americans (49%) say they plan to spend less than in 2019. Roughly 40% of shoppers claim they wish to spend the same amount as in the previous year.

Most people saying “no” to holiday shopping this year (40% of respondents) have incomes below $49,000/year. The same income group is more likely to spend less than last year even if holiday shopping is still on. About 26% of people earning over $200,000/year also declared that they wish to skip holiday shopping, indicating a shift in everyone’s perspective this year. An additional 27% of high-income earners who plan on keeping the holiday shopping tradition say they will most likely reduce their holiday expenses in 2020.

The most cited reasons for reducing and canceling holiday shopping is having less income or a pay cut (38% of respondents) and worrying about the economy is the main reason for those canceling their shopping (30%).

Read the full survey, complete with quotes from experts discussing the findings, here: