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November and December are typically a flurry of holiday gatherings, gift-giving and celebrations. From an enormous Thanksgiving dinner to giving gifts around Christmas and Hanukkah to toasting the New Year, the holidays are busy. This year, they may seem more expensive, too. Over a quarter (27 percent) of holiday shoppers say the holidays will place a strain on their budgets.
Knowing the costs of common holiday purchases will help you with budgeting and making informed spending decisions. Read on for a breakdown of what you can expect to spend during the 2022 holiday season.
Key Bankrate insights on holiday spending in 2022
- 65% of holiday shoppers don’t plan to have money set aside or budgeted for upcoming holiday shopping.
- 27% of holiday shoppers expect to take on debt for holiday purchases.
- 44% of holiday shoppers who make under $40,000 a year say inflation will change how they shop.
- Among those planning overnight leisure trips between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, 24% plan on taking fewer trips.
- Among those planning overnight leisure trips between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, 25% plan on selecting less expensive accommodations and/or destinations.
- Among those planning overnight leisure trips between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, 25% plan on engaging in cheaper activities.
- 41% of Americans feel generally unprepared ahead of an oncoming recession.
Holiday spending snapshot: What to expect in 2022
American holiday shoppers plan on spending about $1,455 this holiday season, according to a study by Deloitte. That’s actually about the same as last year, when the average shopper expected to spend about $1,463. However, in 2022, funds aren’t going as far: The average shopper is only expected to buy nine gifts, compared to last year’s 16.
This is how total spending breaks down for the average holiday shopper:
- $880 in gifts
- $373 in non-gift purchases
- $575 in experiences
After a record-setting holiday season in 2021, Americans are expected to spend a total of between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion this season, a 6 percent to 8 percent increase over last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s latest report.
Because shoppers are spending more on items due to inflation, the National Retail Federation says that households will use more savings and credit to make purchases during the holidays.
The timing of purchases is being affected, too, with Americans beginning their shopping earlier than usual. According to Bankrate, 65 percent of shoppers say they began buying items by November.
A total of about 38 percent of shoppers planned to start early this year, and shoppers have planned on spending roughly a quarter of their budget by October, according to Deloitte. The shopping timeline for the average American is expected to be:
- $329 by the end of October
- $230 during the first half of November
- $433 during the second half of November
- $259 during the first half of December
- $187 during the second half of December
- $17 during January
However, last year, shoppers planned on spending $461 during the second half of November and $310 the first half of December.
Online shopping is expected to rise, too, and Americans are expected to use between 10 percent and 12 percent of their holiday funds for online purchases. Online holiday shoppers are expected to spend a combined nationwide total of between $262.8 billion and $267.6 billion.
Shoppers of different income brackets have different mindsets on how to stretch their holiday funds. This is how shoppers at different incomes plan on approaching holiday spending:
Those making at least $80,000 were the least likely to anticipate being affected by inflationary price increases and were the most likely to plan on having money set aside for holiday shopping. Additionally, those making $40,000 to $79,900 anticipated feeling the greatest budgetary strain due to the holidays, and they were almost as likely as those making under $40,000 to change their shopping due to inflation.
Average holiday gift costs
When selecting gifts for loved ones, most holiday shoppers are spending the largest percentage of their budget on clothing, gift cards and electronics, but shoppers are generally spending less on each category of gift this year, compared to previous years.
Here’s how 2022 holiday spending breaks down for each retail category:
|Retail category||Average category spend in 2022||Average category spend in 2021|
|Clothing and accessories||$262||$304|
|Gift cards and other||$252||$235|
|Electronics and accessories||$209||$243|
|Food and beverage||$202||$220|
|Home and kitchen||$177||$193|
|Toys and hobbies||$157||$187|
|Health and wellness||$126||$156|
As supply chain issues and inflation rise, gift cards are becoming a popular alternative to physical gifts. Shoppers expect to spend $252 on gift cards this year — 7 percent higher than last year’s total of $235. Similarly, 54 percent of consumers are asking for gift cards this year, according to the NRF.
Average holiday spending by age
When it comes to how different generations shop for the holidays, age doesn’t necessarily indicate a bigger budget. Baby boomers are among the generations with the lowest holiday budgets and are estimated to spend $1,199 over the season. Only Gen Z — with 20 percent making under $25,000 a year — will spend less, saying they estimate they will spend $1,104 over the season, according to a recent PWC study.
Millennials expect to spend the most, with an average budget of $1,823 for the holidays. Millennials are also the most likely demographic to travel, and they tend to spend more on themselves, rather than family and friends, with a high focus on health and wellness or pet-related items.
Here’s the total breakdown of how different age brackets plan to spend during this holiday season:
How to save on holiday gifts in 2022
If the cost of gifts and experiences seem outside your budget this year, there are ways to still show your loved ones you care and throw a memorable holiday.
- Make a budget. Making a budget, either for your total spending or per person on your list, allows you to cap your gift spending and prioritize how you want to allocate holiday funds.
- Shop sales and discounts. Holiday sales seem to start earlier every year, but they can be valuable ways to save money. Common Black Friday deals apply to electronics, appliances, mattresses and more. But try comparing prices on your gifts through several different retailers throughout the fall and winter, or comparing retailers that do discounts on common gifts, like toys, each year.
- Shop local or in-person. Support a local business, while avoiding shipping fees and delays. Although you might not be able to get everything on your list through local stores, it can be a great way to snag last-minute gifts or items you may not have expected.
- Gift time and homemade items instead of purchasing presents. Helping with preparations or bringing homemade treats can be a wonderful present instead of spending money on expensive gifts.
- Start to plan for next year. Building your budget for next year will allow you to start a nest egg for gifts and experiences, and will be less of a budget hit in November and December. Holiday decorations and other non-perishables will also often be discounted after the season is over.
- 7 ways to manage financial stress and anxiety during this holiday season
- As inflation boils, younger Americans face extra holiday spending pressures
- Holiday essentials are surging this year thanks to inflation — here’s what’s most expensive
- Travel inflation statistics
Bankrate.com commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct three separate surveys, each on the following subjects: winter holiday shopping habits in 2022, 2022 holiday travel and feelings around the possibilities of an upcoming recession in 2022 and 2023. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.
The total sample size for the survey conducted on winter holiday shopping habits in 2022 was: 2,415 adults, including 1,813 winter holiday shoppers in 2022. Fieldwork was undertaken between August 17 – 19, 2022. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. It employed a nonprobability-based sample using quotas upfront during collection and then a weighting scheme on the back end designed and proven to provide nationally representative results.
The total sample size for the survey conducted on 2022 holiday travel was: 2,455 adults, including 1,055 who anticipate traveling for the holidays and 829 who require travel reservations. Fieldwork was undertaken between September 7-9, 2022. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. It employed a nonprobability-based sample using quotas upfront during collection and then a weighting scheme on the back end designed and proven to provide nationally representative results.
The total sample size for the survey conducted on the possibilities of an upcoming recession in 2022 and 2023 was: 2,390 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between July 27-29, 2022. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. It employed a nonprobability-based sample using quotas upfront during collection and then a weighting scheme on the back end designed and proven to provide nationally representative results.