Christmas Spending Statistics: Deck the Halls with Boughs of Money
Christmas is one of the biggest and most significant holidays in the U.S.A. This is the time of the year when people get together, enjoy some good old family time and, of course, spend copious amounts of money.
Last year, holiday retail sales surpassed the trillion-dollar mark (yes, 12 zeros), with U.S. households spending an average of $1,536 during the season. To gain a better understanding of how much Americans spend and why, we’ve compiled a list of more than 20 important Christmas spending statistics.
First off, we’ll examine what Americans are buying and how much they’re paying for it. We’ll look at some interesting differences between men’s and women’s habits, and how their Christmas wish lists differ. Then we’ll focus on what payment methods people use and whether they prefer to buy gifts online or in person.
We’ll highlight some (worryingly) high Christmas spending figures, before finishing with some interesting facts about holiday shoppers’ habits.
Christmas Shopping Statistics - Editor's Choice
- 32.8 million real Christmas trees were sold during the last holiday season.
- More than 60% of US consumers prefer to buy their holiday gifts online.
- The usage of smartphones for Christmas gift purchases increased by 11% in the last two years.
- Americans spend an average of $123 on their spouses for Christmas.
- 22% of Americans believe their Christmas spending will leave them in debt.
- More than 60% of Americans buy their gifts a week before Christmas.
- 66% of holiday shoppers will pay more for sustainable products, with younger generations leading the way.
- High-income households are more likely to shop online for Christmas gifts.
Stats about Christmas: What Are Americans Buying?
27.1 million real Christmas trees were sold in 2017. A year later, the number grew to 32.8 million.
Although fake Christmas trees are becoming more and more popular, for many Americans, nothing beats the real thing. Not only do they look better, but they’re also fully biodegradable and support American business, while the fake ones are usually made in China. Christmas stats from the National Christmas Tree Association show that there are around 350 million Christmas trees growing on U.S. farms, which is more than enough to satisfy the market’s demands.
Nearly half of Americans don’t buy Christmas decorations.
A survey based on responses from 1,025 U.S. citizens revealed that 49% of them don’t want to spend any money on Christmas decorations. In these Christmas decoration statistics, 14% said that they’d be happy to just receive decorations as holiday gifts. While some might lament this lack of exaggerated festivity, we might be looking at the start of a new, thrifty, environmentally conscious trend.
46% of people have lied about liking a gift.
Choosing the right present for someone is no easy task, especially when we’re talking about buying gifts for loved ones. Fortunately, nearly half of Americans understand the struggle from the other end and don’t mind lying to protect their loved ones’ feelings. According to Christmas statistics, women are more compassionate and, therefore, more likely (51.4%) to have lied than men (35.5%). With a high chance that they’re lying to protect your feelings, you’ll never really know if you’ve got the right gift for your better half.
47.4% of women want to get jewelry for Christmas.
For nearly half of the U.S. women surveyed in the making of these Christmas spending statistics, diamonds are still a girl’s best friend. A slightly lower percentage (46%) would be thrilled to get a weekend break or a holiday. Third on the wishlist are gift vouchers, with 42.2% of women saying they’d be happy to receive some credit at their favorite shop. All those romantic souls who want to strike an emotional note with a handcrafted gift might be in luck: 35.8% of women would love a handmade present.
32.3% of men want gift vouchers for Christmas.
For men, Christmas shopping seems to be a lot simpler. Nearly a third of men want gift vouchers, but only around 20.3% of them actually get them. Another 32% want clothing for Christmas, but nearly half (45.6%) receive it, suggesting that around 13.5% aren’t too thrilled with their hand-knitted socks from grandma. Of course, even socks are better than nothing. Nearly a quarter (23.5%) of men probably feel unloved after getting no presents whatsoever for Christmas.
Christmas Shopping Stats: Are We Buying Online or Offline?
More than 60% of people in the U.S.A. prefer to buy their holiday gifts online.
The number of holiday shoppers spending online is increasing every year, which isn’t all that surprising. There are numerous benefits to online shopping; it’s fast, easy, and allows you to avoid massive crowds. Despite that, research has also shown an increase in the popularity of large-scale merchants, from 44% in 2017 to more than half in 2019. So, even though it’s easier to shop online, Americans still love to buy in-person when the Christmas holidays come around.
60% of U.S. shoppers who choose to shop at brick-and-mortar stores do so because it allows them to interact with the product.
When you’re buying a product, you want to make sure it’s not faulty, damaged, or misrepresented. That’s certainly one of the advantages of traditional shopping, with 60% of Americans agreeing on the matter. Another 47% go to stores to avoid shipping costs, while the same percentage of people find it easier to get inspiration when shopping in person. Interestingly, 42% of people go real-world shopping to get into the Christmas spirit and experience the holiday atmosphere.
76% of U.S. consumers used computers to buy their Christmas gifts online in 2017. The usage of mobile phones increased by 11% since then, while usage of laptops, tablets, and desktops remained steady.
Many Americans still rely on desktop and laptop computers to find their perfect Christmas gifts. Despite that, it’s hard not to notice the emerging mobile-first trend. In 2017, 46% of respondents in a survey about Christmas spending said they use their mobile phones for online shopping, which is a 6% increase from the preceding year. In 2019, around 70% of consumers used smartphones for holiday purchases. Chances are this trend will continue in the future, with mobile phones slowly becoming dominant in every sphere.
23% of Christmas shoppers in the U.S. rely on social media to help them make the right choice.
Keep in mind, though, that these stats about Christmas are merely consumer self-assessments. The 77% of people who say they don’t plan on using social media for advice might not even have a say in that. If they use social media at all, they are likely influenced by dozens of ads on a daily basis. On the other hand, those people who are willing to accept social media influence say they mostly take advice from their friends and/or family.
66% of Americans say they do their research online but buy gifts in brick-and-mortar shops.
When it comes to omnichannel average Christmas spending, a slightly higher percentage of people research online and buy in-store than vice versa: 66% compared to 54%. Undoubtedly, as technology continues to advance, online Christmas shopping will only increase in the future. The internet makes it easier to compare prices, find new deals, and get a comprehensive look at what each retailer offers.
High-income households are more likely to shop online for Christmas gifts.
A high-income household is defined as one that earns more than $100,000 per year, while low-income households earn less than $50,000. Research shows that 59% of high-income households do their holiday shopping online, compared to around 46% of low-income families. If we also consider the percentage of middle-income earners who do their Christmas shopping online (53%), we can see a clear pattern emerging.
Christmas Spending Facts: Amounts
In 2018, U.S. households spent an average of $1,536 during the Christmas holidays. In 2019, the average amount spent dropped to $1,496.
Only about a third of that figure represents the average amount spent on Christmas gifts and gift cards: $511. The remaining $985 goes towards costs like entertaining, going out, and buying outfits to wear during festive celebrations. In 2018, the amount spent on gifts was the highest it’s been in nearly 10 years: $525.
What’s even more interesting is the fact that gift cards are in high demand. One could argue that the whole concept of gift cards doesn’t really fit in with the Christmas spirit, but the 53% of Americans who buy them clearly disagree.
Holiday retail sales in 2018 surpassed $1 trillion. In 2019, the amount increased by around 4.5 percent.
The record-breaking figure of $1.002 trillion is the result of an upward trend that has been gaining momentum for years. In 2014, the overall figure was $842.37 billion, meaning that Christmas spending has increased by $160 billion in just four years. The numbers show that physical stores still get the largest slice of the Christmas pudding, with purchases at brick-and-mortar stores representing 87.7% of average Christmas spending. That said, this percentage is slowly dropping every year as more and more people turn to eCommerce (sales by eCommerce platforms increased 14-18 percent compared to 2018).
Americans spend an average of $123 on their spouses for Christmas.
However, this amount is not equal for men and women. In fact, stats show that men spend around $20 more on their partners than women do. When it comes to high-end generosity, 12.5% of Americans spend more than $300 on their spouses during Christmas. On a slightly more depressing note, Christmas spending stats show that around a quarter of Americans spend nothing on their adult children, while 35.3% don’t buy anything for their friends.
22% of Americans believe their Christmas spending will leave them in debt.
For nearly a quarter of Americans, Christmas is the most likely time of the year to go into debt, according to a LendEDU survey about the average cost of Christmas. These big holiday shoppers expect to be around $554 in debt on average once the holidays are over. While 72% of respondents were confident their holiday spending wouldn’t result in debt, the remaining 6% decided not to answer the question. Are these Americans unsure about how much they spend or embarrassed about not managing their finances properly?
Christmas Shoppers’ Buying Habits
62% of Americans buy their gifts in the week before Christmas.
Based on this, we can assume that most people either wait for special Christmas discounts to do their shopping or are simply lazy too disorganized to buy their gifts in advance. In fact, these holiday spending statistics show that 7% of people do their shopping on the day before Christmas, while an additional 4% from go one step further and purchase gifts after the holiday has passed. If you buy them after Christmas, can they even be considered Christmas gifts?
28.8% of U.S. shoppers start their Christmas shopping in November.
Unlike those last-minute shoppers from the previous stat, more than a quarter of Americans don’t leave anything to chance by starting their Christmas shopping in November. This is according to a Censuswide survey of both U.S. and U.K. shoppers from 2018. The survey also shows that American shoppers appear to be better prepared than their British counterparts, only 24.4% of whom begin their Christmas hunt in November.
Stats about Christmas show that 19% of Americans spend their money during the holiday season on completely unplanned purchases.
We can add to this number the 30% of shoppers who have a vague idea of what they want to buy, but rely on in-store inspiration to make the final decision. Combined, these indecisive shoppers represent nearly half of American Christmas consumers. This figure shows how important it is for retailers to invest in effective marketing campaigns that will draw in customers during the holiday season.
51% of Christmas shoppers buy gifts for themselves, too.
They say you first have to love yourself before you can love someone else, and these holiday statistics seem to confirm that. Indeed, it’s one of the lesser-known Christmas shopping facts that more than half of Americans use this holiday to buy themselves gifts, too. Among these self-loving shoppers, 42% splash out on food and liquor, while 40% treat themselves to some new clothes.
For 60% of holiday shoppers, being able to return purchases easily is important.
There’s nothing worse than watching that special someone put on a fake smile after receiving an unwanted Christmas gift. That’s why more than half of Americans value a straightforward return policy when purchasing gifts. In addition to that, Christmas shopping stats show 71% of shoppers feel it’s important the shop offers high-quality products in the first place, while 68% want a large variety of products to choose from.
66% of holiday shoppers will pay more for sustainable products.
Younger generations have dramatically improved our overall ecological consciousness score, with nearly two-thirds of shoppers now willing to pay extra for certified sustainable products. The leader of the pack is Generation Z (87%), followed by millennials (75%), while Generation X (62%) falls just behind the overall average. Even the most senior among us are doing their bit, with more than half (53%) prepared to spend extra for the planet’s sake.
14.2% of Americans say they sell their possessions to fund Christmas spending.
Although this might seem like extreme behavior, it’s actually a much better option than some other alternatives. For example, while 14.2% of Americans try to reduce money spent on Christmas by selling their things, 5.8% borrow from friends and family. Some people take the holiday season even more seriously, with 4.2% getting loans to cover their Christmas spending.
61% of people in the U.S.A. would reveal personal information to get special deals.
It appears privacy has its price. For Christmas shoppers, that price comes in the form of coupons. Of the nearly 2,500 shoppers surveyed to compile Deloitte’s Christmas spending statistics, 61% would offer up their personal information in exchange for special promotions and discounts. Another 60% would reveal this information to get some sort of personalized shopping experience. Whether or not this decision pays off in the long run remains to be seen.
I have always thought of myself as a writer, but I began my career as a data operator with a large fintech firm. This position proved invaluable for learning how banks and other financial institutions operate. Daily correspondence with banking experts gave me insight into the systems and policies that power the economy. When I got the chance to translate my experience into words, I gladly joined the smart, enthusiastic Fortunly team.
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