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58% of American consumers plan to spend $500 or less this holiday shopping season, survey finds


58% of American consumers plan to spend $500 or less this holiday shopping season, survey finds

Two women out holiday shopping

If it’s not the most wonderful time of the year, the holiday season is, at least in one way or another, a bit extra for most people. More calories, more travel and errands, and—for many consumers—more spending.

While many retail stores and outlets have scaled back their temporary holiday workforce, the earliest holiday spending data from Black Friday and Cyber Monday suggests that spending this season is, if not spectacular, at least healthy. Most consumers have less in savings than in previous years, which may mean more moderate spending for the rest of the holiday season, according to retail observers.

In this Experian survey, we share consumers’ spending plans as the 2023 holiday shopping season comes to bear. Perhaps more importantly, we also wanted to get a sense of how consumers feel about all the “normal” hustle and bustle returning to the calendar after a few years of pandemic-induced cutbacks. The survey asked 1,216 consumers about their holiday spending plans and was conducted on November 26, 2023. The sample was collected using a third-party company and was not from Experian’s consumer credit database.


Most, but not all, consumers plan to spend this season

Bar chart showing 84% of respondents plan to spend money on holiday shopping in 2023.

First things first: Not everyone engages in holiday shopping. We asked 1,200 consumers if they did, and 1 in 6 told us they weren’t intending to spend any money on the holidays this year.

The percentage of consumers not spending this holiday season is highest for those with household incomes of less than $50,000 annually: 21% of these consumers aren’t planning to spend anything this season, while only 11% of those with higher household incomes are planning to sit out the spending season. Inflation and costs were mentioned as an impediment to shopping by some consumers.

In addition, those not spending in stores may not be in the holiday spirit otherwise. When we asked if they planned to give gifts that they weren’t planning to spend on—think baking, crafts, or regifting—those spending in stores are more likely to also give cost-free gifts than those planning to sit out the gift-giving season. 


Most consumers say they plan to budget for the holidays

Chart showing that most people plan to spend up to $500 holiday shopping.

Budgeting is hard. From envelope stuffing to mobile apps, sticking to a budget is a challenge for most individuals and families. So it’s hardly a wonder that consumers aren’t completely on board when it comes to creating, never mind sticking to, a holiday budget.

Keeping in mind that 38% percent of survey respondents say they don’t have a holiday budget, most plan to keep holiday spending at or under $500 this season. But nearly a quarter of respondents may plan to spend between $500 and $1,000, while 18% say they may spend more than $1,000. 


Will that be cash, credit, or buy now, pay later?

Bar chart showing that 75% of people plan to pay with cash this holiday season.

Most survey respondents told us they expect to use a combination of cash and credit cards to pay for their holiday purchases this season: 75% said at least some of their purchases would be paid for with cash, while 56% said that they’ll use credit cards to finance some or all of their spending. Meanwhile, buy now, pay later plans have also entered the picture: 15% of consumers said they’ll use financing from these alternative payment methods to pay for some of their gift-giving in 2023. 


How are consumers feeling about holiday shopping?

Bar chart showing the emotions including cheerful, festive, stressed, and anxious that holiday shoppers feel.

For all the hustle, bustle and other frenetic activity often associated with the end of the year in the U.S., survey respondents generally had more positive associations with the season than negative ones. Gratitude, festiveness and cheer were reported more from those we asked than anxiety, stress, and panic.

But most respondents weren’t exclusively on the side of the Holiday Spirit or Team Scrooge: They reported a heightened, but decidedly mixed, bag of emotions and sentiment. One person volunteered that they “love holiday shopping, but I have a lot of anxiety about my credit card debt,” while another encapsulated the season as “stressful and fun at the same time.”

This story was produced by Experian and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.

Article Topic Follows: Holidays

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