Find out how much your fellow Americans are spending on gifts and how during the holiday season with these insightful Christmas gift buying statistics.
Christmas is the season to be jolly.
As it's a chance for us to relax and celebrate with our family and friends, spending quality time together that is hard to do throughout the year.
However, Christmas can also throw up some issues that can make it a stressful time, with one being the buying of gifts.
Because it can be so hard to know what to buy. And how much to do you need to spend? And who do you need to buy for?
It's a minefield.
So, this is where statistics can be your friend, as knowing the general holiday shopping trends can help you plan out your own Christmas spending.
And fortunately each year certain retail organisations and companies keep track of these figures and carry out surveys on the population to gain insight into people's Christmas holiday spending.
So we analysed a selection of these surveys and reports from the following companies to gain an overall picture of gift buying habits for people in the US:
Christmas Gift Buying Highlights
Before we go into more detail on what was in the various surveys, here's a Christmas gift buying infographic featuring the key findings.
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<p><strong>Courtesy of Gift Ideas Unwrapped.</strong><br /><br /><a href='https://giftsunwrap.wpengine.com/christmas-gift-buying-statistics/'><img src='https://giftsunwrap.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Christmas-gift-buying-statistics-infographic-4.png' alt='Christmas Gift Buying Statistics Infographic' 540px border='0' /></a></p>
1. How Much Do We Spend On Christmas Gifts?
Christmas is an expensive time for many households in the United States, with the total amount being spent rising every year.
In fact, total retail spending during the 2019 holiday season reached a staggering $1.007 trillion, which is the first time it has broken through the trillion dollar mark. (eMarketer).
This was up nearly 4% on the previous year ($971 billion) and over 14% from 2015 ($862 billion).
The expected average holiday spending for 2019 was estimated at $1,496 per household. This includes gifts, entertaining at home, socialising away from home, and other non-gift items (Deloitte).
Gifts accounted for 34% of this budget ($511), with $382 expected to be spent on actual gifts and $129 on gift cards.
So, how are we allocating this gift budget among our family and friends?
It seems that among the adults our spouses and partners come out on top, as Americans spent an average of $123 on their other halves (ThatSweetGift).
And 12.5% were even more generous, spending over $300 on gifts for their partner (ThatSweetGift).
The next highest were our adult sons and daughters, who we spent an average of $91 on, followed by Mom ($62), Dad ($49), our best friends ($29), and Grandparents ($26) (ThatSweetGift).
However, as we know Christmas is mostly about the children.
And as such, 20% of Americans were expecting to spend over $200 on gifts for each of their children at Christmas. (Statista).
2. What Kind Of Gifts Are We Buying?
One of the biggest issues when buying gifts is knowing what to get.
And when asked what gifts they were planning to buy during the 2019 holiday season, the top five choices for Christmas shoppers were clothing (55%), gift cards (53%), games, toys, dolls (46%), books (43%), and food/liquor (43%) (Deloitte).
While for shoppers in the 18-24 age bracket the top three choices were clothing (70%), personal care items (38%), and jewelry (31%) (National Retail Federation).
Gift cards remained a popular gifting choice, with a staggering $27.5 billion expected to be spent on them in the 2019 holiday season (National Retail Federation).
With the three most popular type of gift cards to give being restaurants (35% of shoppers planned to buy these), department stores (30%), and coffee shops (23%), with an average of $47 being spent on each one (National Retail Federation).
And when it came to toy gifts for the children, the top 5 choices for girls were Barbie, dolls, LOL surprise dolls, American girl, and LEGO, while the boys wanted LEGO, cars & trucks, Hot Wheels, video games, and Paw patrol (National Retail Federation).
3. How Are We Deciding Which Gifts To Buy?
Finding out how people make their gift choices gives us a fascinating insight into our shopping methods and habits.
And when asked how they planned to research potential gift purchases, 65% said they'd do so via online retailers, 58% would use website search engines, 52% preferred going to retail stores, 40% used retailer websites or mobile apps, and 33% visited the manufacturer website or apps (Deloitte).
While a separate survey found that the top 5 sources of inspiration when deciding which gifts to buy were online searches (45%), recommendations from friends and family (38%), browsing in a retail store (36%), following someones wish list (28%), and advertising circulars (27%) (National Retail Federation).
So, it seems that many of us are hunting our gifts online nowadays, with 42% of Christmas shoppers saying they found product recommendations on shopping websites or apps helpful for deciding what to buy (Deloitte).
However, social media isn't quite the force in influencing Christmas shoppers just yet, with only 23% of people saying they planned to use it to help them with their gift buying (Deloitte).
But it is a popular choice among 18-24 year-old's when looking for gift inspiration, with the top 5 platforms used being Instagram (26%), Facebook (24%), Pinterest (20%), Twitter (12%), and Snapchat (11%) (National Retail Federation).
4. Many Of Us Are Getting Gift Buying Wrong
The last thing you want to do at Christmas is to give someone a gift that they hate, right?
However, it seems this is a very common occurrence, as a global survey of over 15,800 people in 2019 found that as many as 77% of them were planning to return a Christmas gift they had been given (Oracle Retail).
While 20% were expecting to have to return over half of the gifts they received! (Oracle Retail).
In another survey it was found that 46% of people have lied to their loved ones about liking a gift to help spare their feelings (ThatSweetGift).
With women being the more tactful sex, with 51.4% of them being diplomatic when receiving a dodgy gift, compared to 35% of men (ThatSweetGift).
So what do people do with all these unwanted gifts?
Well, 52% decided to keep them regardless and just not use them, while 38% of women and 23% men chose to re-gift them, and 12% of people sold them on eBay (ThatSweetGift).
5. So What Do People Actually Want For Christmas?
The best way of avoiding the fate of giving an unwanted Christmas gift is to find out what your loved ones really want before buying them.
However, unless you straight out ask them, this can be hard to do. So let's look at the statistics instead.
The That Sweet Gift survey found that the top 3 most desired gifts for women were jewelry (wanted by 47%), a weekend break (46%), and gift vouchers (42%).
While the top 3 choices for men were gift vouchers (32%), clothing (32%), and cash (26%) (ThatSweetGift).
However, the survey for the National Retail Federation found that gift cards were the most popular choice overall, with 59% of people hoping to receive them in the 2019 holiday season.
This was followed by clothing/accessories (52%), books and other media (35%), electronics (29%), home decor (24%), jewelry (23%), personal care items (21%), sporting goods (18%), home improvement (17%), and other (7%) (National Retail Federation).
And gift cards were even more popular among the women, with 67% of them wishing for them, compared to 50% of men (National Retail Federation).
While 38% of people said they'd love to receive an experience gift rather than a physical one this year (although only 25% of people were planning on buying one for a loved one) (National Retail Federation).
6. When Are People Doing Their Christmas Shopping?
People tend to be very divided when it comes to when they do their Christmas shopping.
With the super organised people at one end of the scale who start buying their gifts really early, and those who leave everything until the very last minute at the other end.
So which camp do most people fall in to?
Well the Deloitte survey found that starting early was a big thing, with 62% of people saying they bought their first gift before Thanksgiving.
And if that seems early, then how about the 39% that admitted to having that first gift in the bag before the end of October! (Deloitte).
Shoppers tend to start early as most expected their Christmas shopping to take them a long time, with 86% expecting it to take them more than 4 weeks to complete (Deloitte).
But that doesn't mean last minute Christmas shopping isn't a thing.
As 56% of shoppers expected to buy their last Christmas gift late (between 18th of December and Christmas Eve), with an extremely brave 6% leaving it until the very last day (National Retail Federation).
And men accounted for more of these last minute Christmas shoppers, with 59% buying gifts during the final week before Christmas compared to 54% of women (National Retail Federation).
Which is actually a lot closer than I'd have expected!
7. Where Are They Doing Their Christmas Shopping?
As people are using the internet more and more nowadays to research and gain inspiration for potential gifts, it's no surprise that most gifts are bought online.
This is reflected in the Deloitte survey, which found that shoppers expected to spend 59% of their holiday budget online, 36% in store, and 5% by other means (such as through a catalogue or direct mail promotion).
While 54% of people said they preferred to do their Christmas gift buying online rather than in store in 2019, rising from only 41% in 2015 (Deloitte).
So online shopping seems to be the way forward, but where do people mostly buy their gifts online?
The LendEdu survey found that when given the choice of two of the biggest ecommerce sites, 47% of online shoppers were expecting to do the majority of their holiday shopping on Amazon, while 38% were planning to use Walmart, and 15% expected to use neither.
Shopping for gifts on a smartphone is steadily increasing too, with 52% planning to use their phones to shop in 2019 compared to 46% in 2018. Of those, 70% were planning to make a purchase on their phone, compared to 59% in 2017 (Deloitte).
However, despite online shopping's growing popularity, this doesn't mean that retail stores didn't benefit as well.
As 69% of shoppers said that while they researched potential gifts online, they then went out and bought them in an actual store (Deloitte).
While 45% ordered online then picked up in store (Deloitte).
And 57% did the opposite by visiting a store to do their research before going home and making the purchase online (Deloitte).
8. Be Charitable To Yourself And Good Causes Too
Christmas is the season of giving, and this isn't limited to gifts for our family and friends.
As two-thirds of people in the United States were planning to donate to a charitable cause over the holiday period, 36% by giving money and 31% by donating goods and items (National Retail Federation).
While Deloitte found that 46% of people surveyed were planning to buy items to donate, with an average spend on these items being $151.
Then there are the 13% of people who were planning on doing some volunteering to help those in need (National Retail Federation).
So all in all we are a pretty generous bunch at this time of year.
And don't forget to treat yourself too.
As 51% of those surveyed admitted to buying themselves a little something when out Christmas shopping, with the top choices being food/liquor (42%), clothing (39%), shoes (28%), books (22%), and cosmetics/fragrances (21%) (Deloitte).
9. How Are We Paying For Christmas Gifts?
As we all know only too well, Christmas can be a real stretch on our household budgets.
And this probably plays a role in the findings that the most common method of paying for holiday purchases was a credit card (used most often by 46% of people) (National Retail Federation).
This was followed by a debit card (36%), cash(16%), and by check (3%) (National Retail Federation).
And with so many people paying for gifts by credit card, 20% of all shoppers expected to go into some kind of debt as a result of their Christmas spending, with the average amount of this estimated debt being $720 (LendEdu).
And some other ways people are funding their Christmas spending include selling personal possessions (14.2%), borrowing money from friends and family (5.8%), and taking out a loan (4.6%) (ThatSweetGift).
With the really bad news being that it takes them a long time to clear that Christmas debt, with 78% expecting to still be in the red come the end of January and 15% only able to make the minimum payments each month (MagnifyMoney).
The act of giving to a loved one by buying them a gift at Christmas time is a wonderful thing, but it can also be hard to get right.
So I hope these Christmas gift buying statistics have enlightened you and given you some guidance on how to spend your own money this holiday season.
As by following the trends you can gain some tips on how to navigate the gift buying minefield.
And take some of the stress out of the holiday season.