Consumers Plan To Purchase Fewer, Cheaper Presents

Prepare for disappointment this holiday season because a survey from Deloitte & Touche says the average consumer is planning to spend less on fewer presents. The average New England holiday shopping budget is down 19% to $517, and the average shopper is prepared to buy only 24 gifts – which to us, still seems like a lot.

Nationally, gift-giving budgets are down 2.5 percent, to $569, according to the survey of 14,135 consumers conducted between Sept. 24 and Oct. 4. Deloitte said New Englanders spent a lot more in 2006 compared with consumers nationally, making this year’s pullback bigger.

Consumers everywhere are feeling the pinch with a slumping housing sector and a volatile stock market. And the soaring price of crude oil could give New Englanders their highest winter heating bills ever.

Holiday sales account for 25%-40% of the average retailer’s annual revenue. A weak holiday sales season certainly won’t help keep us out of recession. Are you planning to buy more or less this year? Tell us in the comments.

Making a holiday list, trimming it twice [Boston Globe]
(Photo: Chris&AmyCate)


Edit Your Comment

  1. homerjay says:

    -Raising hand-

    Im among those spending less.

    I just find I like the people around me less and less every year, thats pretty much why.

  2. Falconfire says:

    Same here, no way I can spend a lot of money with the expenses I have coming.

  3. Trai_Dep says:

    If I woke up to my kitties looking as chagrinned as that kitty on Christmas Day, I’d buy them whatever they want. Up to and including a habitrail stocked with fat (very fat) gerbils.

  4. QuantumRiff says:

    My brother has heating oil. West, coast, farmland, not near any gas lines. He bought a brand new pellet stove insert for his fireplace, and figures it will pay for itself by March. What on earth are they still doing with heating oil back east? (besides driving up the price of Diesel)

  5. homerjay says:

    @QuantumRiff: I’m back east and I looked into putting in a stove. Turns out it wouldn’t have paid for itself for many years. I have a feeling its the price of the pellets. They’re made out there, not here, so I think they’re much more expensive here.

  6. chuloallen says:

    i hope that Black Friday is priced to reflect our current financial situation.. and no rebates darn it! thats just cheating!

  7. in terms of the number of 24, I think that includes all the “gifts” of socks and pajamas parents give to their kids.

    I don’t even know 24 people I like, much less would spend money on.

    It’s pretty much my husband, stepdaughter, father, mother, and sister. Even then, I usually just buy for my stepdaughter and sister. Because I am, in fact, a horrible person.

    Also! Michaels has these Christmas recipe cards at a pack for a dollar right now, so you just write your favorite Christmas recipe, stick them in with or as your Christmas card, and voile! they can make their own Christmas gift from you!

  8. Schmee says:

    I’ll do what I always do, spend what I can afford to (or a little bit more (ACK)) to get presents for the people who I think most deserve them.

  9. KJones says:

    I’ve been waiting for the bubble to burst. Despite the reality of the last five years – job losses, wage cuts and the real inflation rate being higher than the fed reports, Chicken George’s economic ineptitude – every year businesses say, “We’re expecting big sales, a record year”. They even said it last year and even the right wing media (WHAT liberal media?) laughed at them before the sales season began.

    Deloitte and Touche? More like Toilet and Douche – they stink, they’re acrid like vinegar and they’re disgusting, just like Arthur Anderson.

  10. etinterrapax says:

    I just can’t get over how much they say the “average” American spends. Even in a good year, I don’t spend that much. And this year, it’s going to be less. I’m switching a lot of gifts to consumables of one kind or another. No one I know needs or wants more stuff. They don’t necessarily need more to eat, either, but at least it doesn’t clutter up the house for years.

  11. SuffolkHouse says:

    I’m spending less out of spite. I want Bush’s economy to tank, and I’m genuinely sickened by the efforts of virtually ALL major corporations pushing Christmas right after Halloween – like Walmart.

  12. bohemian says:

    I don’t thing we have ever spent that much on gifts. Even during good times. Nope, not buying much this year. Fewer gifts for the kids, everyone else might get a card or something home made.

    Gas, electricity and groceries are sucking us dry.

  13. Raziya says:

    LOL that cat picture is priceless.

    We’re spending less, but we’re getting married next year so…we need to save money. :P

  14. justinph says:

    My entire family plans on spending less this christmas. My mother typically goes totally overboard. However, this year my sisters and I have asked her to not buy us much, and we’re all planning on buying one small gift (under $30) for each person in our immediate family. The extended family is all planning on cutting back too…

    Just not much we need, and there are better things to spend our money on.

  15. bohemian says:

    The retailers are totally desperate. This is why they are gagging everyone with Holiday cheer starting in October.

    Retailers normally order holiday inventory about July IIRC. It arrives in August or September on a normal year. So they bought and then saw things tanking thus they are scrambling to unload it all so they don’t lose money. Or they saw it coming and the three month long holiday is their last ditch strategy.

    Here’s something to watch. Many people get a third paycheck in November if they are on bi-weekly pay. I have to wonder how retailers will try to exploit that with sales.

  16. ogremustcrush says:

    I will probably buy fewer gifts this year, as the one big gift to myself I want to buy will consume most of my money. That gift is a Plasma or LCD HDTV, purchased on Black Friday. 19 days to go!

  17. HooFoot says:

    I’ve never even spent $517 on holiday gifts, and I certainly won’t this year.

  18. BigNutty says:

    No matter what the surveys come up with, I believe people will spend what ever they can afford on gifts, then use their credit card for what they can’t afford.

    Come January, they will then swear that next year they are not going to spend as much. Then comes November and December and the cycle continues again.

  19. SaraAB87 says:

    If its a survey then many people probably lie about what they actually purchase, because they don’t want to admit that they spend over their limit on a survey.

    When I see people buying 1-2 things in the stores instead of 400$ video game systems and 3 cart loads of toys each I will believe the survey.

  20. junkmail says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Wow, that was incredibly ignorant.

  21. XTC46 says:

    @SuffolkHouse: It’s not bush’s economy…it’s ours, he just happens to be president.

    I have a tendency to spend too much. I’m trying not to this year, but I saw that every year. What i’ve started doing is just started buying earlier in the year when I see things I know will make a good gift, that way my bank account isn’t gouged in November/December.

  22. @junkmail: One dollar one vote, isn’t that what the conservatives have been dreaming about for years? There’s your cake, don’t complain when its force fed.

    @xtc46: Not my president.

    Sorry, I’m very bitter about Bush and the 9/11 “shop to save your soul” economy.

  23. it5five says:

    Forget holiday gifts.

    Where can I get that outfit for my cat.

  24. EtherealStrife says:

    Or perhaps spend $0 on gifts this year. Down with materialism! When your entire family agrees to stop gift giving it means more money for the emergency fund, house/car payments, etc. Holidays are about people, not things.

  25. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @EtherealStrife: Hey, there’s nothing wrong with gift-giving. I like giving people presents. They just tend to be weird things from thrift stores, or stuff I buy with the gift cards I got last year. :)

  26. rkm12 says:

    My cat had the same reaction to the antlers we tried to put on her.

  27. junkmail says:

    @AngrySicilian: umm, huh? Not really sure what the hell you’re talking about. Are you saying it’s okay to want the economy to “tank”, taking down hardworking Americans with it, just because you don’t like who’s in office? What possible sense could that make? I just can’t wrap my brain around this whole, “promote failure to prove a point” ideology, sorry. I tried. Conservative, Liberal, Republican, Democrat, shouldn’t matter f*ck all. The point is to make sure we ALL make it out of this alive, NOT just the ones we agree with.

  28. MsClear says:

    As a religious person, Christmas is a religious holiday in my faith tradition. I find the consumerism most distasteful. I buy gifts for maybe nine people, and some of those gifts are homemade or very inexpensive. I do love to send out cards though.

    It doesn’t surprise me that people are planning on spending less. It’s taken them awhile to get it, but now they are starting to realize that you can’t spend money you don’t have without consequences.

    I hope this realization ushers in a new era of development, where the US economy will spend on something besides cheap crap that no one needs.

  29. mac-phisto says:

    @QuantumRiff: i have pipeline gas, which makes me a very happy person, but many new england towns aren’t hooked up to a pipeline. here’s a map (i love pictures):

    if you don’t have access to pipeline, you can get propane, but the cost of delivery is even higher than oil in many cases. i used to have propane & was paying about $3-4/gallon a couple years back.

    then there’s those unfortunate souls that bought houses with electric heat/hot water. in the last 5 years, electric bills have doubled – i know some people will be seeing more than one $500+ bill if we have a few cold months.

    so, oil is the only other real alternative. many older homes have wood stoves & pellet stoves have been real popular over the past few years, but they can only be used to supplement a major heat source. most homes can’t be heated entirely by a single pellet stove.

    & incidentally, spoke to a friend on friday that payed $500 for 150 gallons. yikes!

  30. mac-phisto says:

    @mac-phisto: payed?!? sould be paid, dummy!

  31. JustRunTheDamnBallBillick. says:

    @mac-phisto: I was about to yell at you for yelling at yourself there. Till I noticed you called yourself dummy. (also, should*, lol)

  32. ExtraCelestial says:

    $514 divided by 24 ppl?! thats a little over $21 per person. where are these people shopping? i mean for the kid down the street thats fine but $20 bucks for your mother and sisters? the only way thats slightly doable is if theyre including $2 christmas cards for half that list. seriously ill probably end up spending more than that for like 7 people. quality over quantity. dont get me wrong, im not a material person but i love gift giving and i love giving thoughtful gifts that people will actually USE. things that they wouldnt necessarily buy for themselves. if i can do that for $20 thats wonderful, but yeah… no.


    tots cute! thanks for the idea

  33. kingdom2000 says:

    I plan on spending less out of necessity as is my family. Corporations may be making money but from what I can tell the average working isn’t benefitting from it. For me, my cost of living as risen significantly but my salary not so much as a penny. That means money that could have gone to buy stuff has to go to the necessities. You would think that the corporations and leadership would recongize that a happy middle class with spending money means a happy economy.

    A middle class has universally been what has caused a strong heathly economy. You look at a country that has only an upper and lower class, you see only a poor economy. Its takes three classes (with middle the largest) to have a thriving economy. Instead they just want to eliminate the middle.

  34. jrdnjstn78 says:

    It says 24 gifts not people. That would be alot of people to buy gifts for, that’s when you go to the Dollar Store, heehee.

    I’m only buying for my 2 boys and my dad. I sure am not spending $500+ on gifts. I tell my kids not to expect too much. Then I tell them to be happy with what they get and that other kids don’t get anything.

  35. Mr. Gunn says:

    less and cheaper here, but more creative, and isn’t that supposed to be what christmas is about anyways?

  36. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    i’m in yur tree
    eatin’ yur presents

  37. theblackdog says:

    I’m not going to be spending this much on Christmas this year, namely because most people I know don’t need much, if anything, and because I have locked up my credit card simply so I cannot use it and spend beyond my means.

  38. efbegranny says:

    What annoys me the most is having to buy gifts for people at work: I don’t like them and I feel so phony while I’m doing it. How do you handle the gifts exchange at your workplace?

  39. bilge says:

    I’m too busy enjoying my $98 Toshiba HD-DVD player to buy gifts for other people.

  40. Trackback says:

    Okey-dokey… I just finished adding a couple of new features to the commenting system here at FiveCentNickel. First of all, my responses will now be highlighted with a light grey background.

  41. BigNutty says:

    I had to reply to the office gift giving topic from EFBEGRANNY above. This seemed to be a “requirement” at the past companies that I worked for.

    Solution: $20 gift card to the local mall. Just pretend you threw away 20 bucks and know you won’t have to do it for another 12 months.

  42. Piquant1 says:

    I’m planning on spending less; taxes are due and the car needs major repair.

    The whole family has already discussed cutting way back, because we are all feeling the crunch from the increase in basic living expenses like food, shelter and transportation to work.

  43. @etinterrapax: “I just can’t get over how much they say the “average” American spends.”

    I can, but then I have a supergigantic family. :P

    I’m hoping to spend less, both because money is tight (and house is choosing economic recession moment to vomit up all available systems that require contractors to fix), but also because we’ve been working to dial it back a bit for the last few years. The entire Xmas orgy has become a bit overwhelming for us, in a family of our size, now expanding as siblings reach adulthood.

    Also we already own enough stuff, so we’d be cool with other relatives dialing it back w/r/t us as well!

    Initially I thought my family would think some of my homemade gifts were dorky, but then they all started trying to steal my homemade wrapping “paper” (Xmas fabric wraps) for themselves instead of giving it back, so now I don’t worry about it!

  44. Starfury says:

    We’re going to spend WAY less this year and I’m going to have to be the bad guy in the house on this. We already got “our” Christmas present, and new digital camera for vacation. The kids are getting a Wii and that’s pretty much it. The rest of the family does name swapping so we’ve only got to get 2 gifts there and a few other small items.

    We have too many big bills at the end/beginning of the year to spend a lot on Christmas…Car Ins, Property Taxes and House Ins. It also doesn’t help when gas for the cars is $300/mo.

  45. phrygian says:

    I definitely plan on spending less. My husband is in grad school and the company he worked for dissolved. There’s just not a lot of excess cash floating around our home right now for things like Christmas gifts. The only people we’re looking at buying gifts for this year are each other (things we’d need anyway like clothes), our parents, and our two nephews; everyone else is getting homemade stuff (cookies, candy, soap). Everything added together including money for our annual holiday party, our budget will be well below $500.

  46. lmbrownmail says:

    They run this same type of story every year – but I’ve yet to see any reduction in Christmas spending by anyone I know. And, no – I’m not rich!

  47. coraspartan says:

    Yeah, who are these people they survey? No way are the families I know only spending $500 on Christmas. I know that my son’s friends’ parents spend obscene amounts of money on their families. Last year, one family bought their son a 32″ TV for his bedroom, plus a bunch of other stuff; they bought their other son a Wii plus a bunch of other toys.

    Another family bought both of their kids laptops for Christmas. Laptops!! I don’t even own a laptop–I’m sure as heck not buying my son one.

    Our son is getting a Nintendo DS Lite ($127 at Costco) this year, plus a couple of other gifts. Friends and family get him enough stuff that we don’t have to buy him a ton.

    I can tell you this much–we will probably spend easily over $1,000 on Christmas this year. I just made my list of people to buy for the other day, and it totalled 20 people. All of these people buy us gifts, so how can we not buy for them? I would love to just buy for my husband and son, but that’s not possible.