Inflation Affecting Some Holiday Shoppers

Gift giving
Gift giving | Image by Bob Dmyt/Pixabay

Inflation is putting the squeeze on many holiday shoppers this year, but others are going about their Christmas shopping routine at full throttle, according to a survey published by WalletHub last month.

More than 1 in 3 Americans are nixing Christmas gift-giving altogether due to financial concerns, according to the survey. Another 28% of respondents said they plan to spend less this year than last year on holiday shopping, and 47% said that inflation has impacted their charitable giving.

There are many ways to enjoy the holiday season that are not focused on the exchange of gifts, and “a gift-less holiday gathering can promote more family cohesion and take materialism out of relationships,” suggested Yao Jin, an associate professor of supply chain management at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University. “Holiday cheers are so much more than gifts.”

He recommends taking advantage of free community holiday programs and events, volunteering to help the less fortunate, and learning about the holiday traditions of other cultures. Spending time together making holiday-themed arts and crafts projects or cooking seasonal recipes are other gratifying ways that families can enjoy the holidays without spending a fortune.

Still, 58% of Americans plan to spend the same on their holiday shopping as last year, and 14% expect that they will spend more than last year. Holiday spending is expected to hit record levels this year, topping last year by 3-4%, hitting an anticipated $957.3 to $966.6 billion, according to a study by the National Retail Federation.

Roughly 20% of holiday shoppers intend to apply for a new credit card to finance their purchases, the WalletHub survey revealed. Among credit card users, 53% said they planned to pay off their balances right away, 21% said they would have them paid off by New Year’s, and 15% said they would pay their charges in full by Spring 2024.

However, nearly a quarter of respondents said they still had credit card debt from last holiday season. In the third quarter of 2023, household credit card debt averaged $9,068, a 12% increase over the same period in 2022, according to WalletHub statistics.

Jennifer Yurchisin, assistant professor of marketing at Catawba College, encourages holiday shoppers to try buying fewer gifts, limiting them to presents that are meaningful and affordable. She suggested that experiential gifts, such as a membership to a museum or passes to a state park, would be good year-long alternatives to more expensive material things.

“I know this is hard with kids who want to see lots of presents, but teaching them to buy what they can afford and to appreciate what they are given is a lesson more valuable than whatever is in the wrapped-up box,” Yurchisin said, per WalletHub.

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