Will You Be Spending More Or Less This Holiday Season?

After Halloween comes and goes on Sunday, Holiday shopping season will be upon us (whether you want it to be or not). So it’s good timing that our analytical siblings at Consumer Reports has released the results of its Holiday shopping survey for 2010. Once again, a large portion of Americans say they intend on spending less this season than they did last year, but that number continues to decrease while the percentage of people increasing their Holiday budgets is on the rise.

According to the survey, 30% of Americans are still planning to spend less in 2010 than they did last year. On the bright side, that result is down from 33% from the 2009 survey and a huge drop from the 42% number CR tabulated in 2008.

The growth in the number of people expecting to spend more this year isn’t quite as dramatic. In 2008, only 13% of respondents said they were ramping up their Holiday budgets. That percentage has increased by 3% in both 2009 (16%) and 2010 (19%).

Of additional interest is the fact that men and women have very different ideas for how much they will be spending this Holiday season. Among men, 22% said they will be spending more, compared to only 15% for women. Conversely, 35% of women said they would be spending less this year, while a mere 24% of men are going to spend less.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans whose Holiday spending plans remain unchanged remains… well, unchanged at 49%, a sentiment shared evenly by both genders.

Of course, expectations are just that — expectations. The survey also took a look back at 2009 to compare what people had planned to spend versus what they ultimately spent.

In Dec. 2009, the average respondent had intended to spend $699. Shock of shocks, that was wishful thinking, as the actual amount spent averaged out to $811, 16% more than was planned.

While Consumer Reports’ survey was all very scientifically executed and planned, we wanted to see what results we’d get from this completely unscientific poll asking the same question:

Consumers (slightly) loosen their belts this holiday season [Consumer Reports]


Edit Your Comment

  1. FrugalFreak says:

    no open spend until a return of jobs.

  2. apd09 says:

    I have $30 from every paycheck go into my savings account specifically for Christmas. Call it a Christmas club if you want but I spend the same amount every year. When the holidays come around I have 780.00 to spend on gifts for 7 people. I spend about 100 on each person and that is it.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I do exactly the same thing. I have a bunch of ING accounts allocated for different expenses (car, house, escrow, vacation, holidays, etc.) and just have various small increments pulled out of each paycheck.

  3. b612markt says:

    Homemade gifts this year!

  4. Thyme for an edit button says:

    Much less as I am unemployed. I will be using cards I have leftover from previous years. I have done some canning and will be doing some baking so I will have some presents for those closest to me.

    • scoccaro says:

      Yep that is what i did when i was out of a job last year, or decorated a pretty ornament. I did jam in college too when i was at my brokest.

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    My Christmas shopping takes me about half an hour to do. I buy everyone a card and put
    $50 in it. No complaints yet.

  6. kataisa says:

    I’ll probably spend about the same this year but I do plan on boycotting those places who are already advertising for Christmas sales (I’m looking at you, Sears). I really don’t like Christmas creep.

  7. cybrczch says:

    Slightly less this year. Parents and friends about the same, but fewer kids this year to spend for.

  8. bee8boo8bop8 says:

    Christmas for the WASP half of my family and my husband will run about $250. Hongbao for the Chinese half come New Year will run about $400. It’s nice having the two big holidays a distance apart; I budget over 6 months for everything.

    Speaking of which, I finished buying Christmas gifts yesterday. I might pick up a couple of small things, but basically all I have left is wrapping. My friends think I’m nuts.

    • pop top says:

      I love buying presents early. That way you can relax while everyone is freaking out about all their last-minute gift buying.

      • Kate says:

        I always lose presents or see something that I think will be a far better gift. The earlier I start, the more I spend.

  9. chatterboxwriting says:

    I will spend more this year, but only because my fiance and I would like a new TV and he needs a new desktop PC b/c he can barely even run his graphic design software on his current one (he only has 512 MB of RAM). So, I plan to use holiday deals to get these items, along with Christmas gifts for other family members.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Can you just update the RAM?

      • Mecharine says:

        If it only has 512 mb now, then its more cost effective to buy a new one with 4 gb of ram. The 512mb ram is probably old as well, maybe 133 mhz types and the motherboard may be incompatible with newer memory. Currently you can get 800 mhz ram for cheap.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      keep an eye on fatwallet.com forums.

    • Kibit says:

      Check out Gotta Deal too. They often have info about computer stuff and everyone over there is talking about Black Friday and posting online and offline sales too.


  10. travel_nut says:

    I wanted to do a gift swap with the adults in our family, so that each person only buys a gift for 1 other person. No such luck. So we have to buy for a total of 10 adults and 3 children.

    Parents and grandparents are getting a framed family portrait. (At their request.) Our parents will be getting a little something extra as well. Our siblings and the kids get $20 each.

  11. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Less, but not because of financial reasons. I’m just making less effort this year because I’m trying to buy everyone’s gifts at local shops, and that means it’s going to take more time.

  12. pop top says:

    I’m making a gift basket of treats for my parents and grandparents, getting my nephew a gift card to a store he likes and my husband and I are going on a trip that’s a combination anniversary/XMas present. So we are spending much, much less this year.

  13. andyg8180 says:

    christmas last year was a good reminder that it doesnt have to be about the presents… a big dinner, some little gifts and a day off from work… screw racking up the debt for another day in the neighborhood…

  14. startertan says:

    More…only because last year, my now wife’s father was out of work and her mom had just started a new job and having her ours cut so everyone was low on cash. We didn’t want anyone to feel bad by us getting them nice gifts.

    This year, both parents are employed, I started a new job and we got married. After paying off the wedding, we replenished our savings (didn’t drain it just used some of it to pay for the wedding), even added a few grand to it, and my mortgage is down b/c I got new cheaper homeowners insurance.

    So compared to last year MUCH more, but overall probably just “average”.

  15. Robofish says:

    my family has been getting back into the spend time with each other on Christmas part more these past few years rather then spend time together and give gifts.

  16. Mamudoon says:

    Well, seeing as I’ve been seriously ill and hence unemployed for the past two years, nobody’s gonna get jack from me. Or maybe I’ll send out cookie platters. Yeah. I’ll do that. Everyone likes cookies.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I wish that you feel better soon.

    • kataisa says:

      I love homemade food baskets. In fact I think I’ll put in a request to everybody this year – no more gift cards, just make me cookies, fudge, or pies. I’ll have the best Christmas ever!

      Anyway, I hope you feel better and get back on your feet soon. Good luck.

  17. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Probably nothing. I’m barely able to pay my bills right now, and stuff keeps breaking. First my car radiator, now my laptop supply…I don’t even want to know what’s next.

    I’m going to tell everyone not to get me anything. I’m sure the bf won’t listen, so I’ll try and find something for him he’ll like.

  18. kalaratri says:

    Less, but that’s because I’m tried of buying presents for the extended family so I’m just not going to do it this year unless they’re under 12 or so. I can still afford to do it, I just don’t feel like it.

  19. exoxe says:


  20. Ilovegnomes says:

    We’re only buying for the kids and not the adults. It is so much less stressful and less expensive.

    • travel_nut says:

      Ugh. I wish. I suggested to my family that we do either that, or just have a gift swap where each person buys for 1 other person. I was totally shot down. “But we liiiiiike buying presents for everyone!” So I’m spending a minimal amount on each person.

      • RandomHookup says:

        My family is spread out enough and doesn’t get together in one place for any holidays, so gift buying just kinda died out. Someone might send me a fruit basket, but no reciprocation expected.

    • PunditGuy says:

      We do this too, but someone always screws it up.

  21. DeadFlorist says:

    One of the best things I have ever done is opt out of the Christmas consumer orgy. I don’t need to spend money and I certainly don’t need any more crap. It didn’t take much convincing of my friends and family, and we’re all better off for it. The holiday season is for enjoying the people in your life, not the stuff.

  22. Andyb2260 says:

    Can you spend less than nothing?

    I haven’t given a Christmas present in 5 years. I buy gifts for people, at a time of my choosing. I don’t buy gifts because the calendar tell me it’s time to buy gifts.

  23. babyruthless says:

    Spending the same, but spending it in Europe. Sorry, America.

  24. C. Ogle says:

    I may need to learn to shoplift this holiday season. It’s been kind of a rough year.

  25. Donathius says:

    Much, much, much less…I’m posting this from the hospital where my wife just had our first child 3 days ago. Everyone is getting a hug and five minutes of holding the baby.

  26. sweetgreenthing says:

    My family and friends all agreed to an homemade-only Christmas this year. Nothing can be store-bought, obviously, and food gifts count. I’ll be making my much- loved homemade soups and breads, and the kids are working on salt dough ornaments. No one has the money and I think this year will actually be a lot more fun.

  27. jefeloco says:

    Considering that my wife just graduated school and is still job hunting after two years of unemployment that just ended, we will be spending a hell of a lot less. We normally love Halloween but we can’t even afford cheapo candy for kids this year so we’re turning out the lights on Saturday and Sunday.

  28. Mecharine says:

    Spending money during the holidays is a sure fire way to get bad deals. A lot of places jack prices up for holiday shopping. If you’re smart, you did your holiday shopping in the middle of the year or whenever real discounts show up.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      There are still deals to be had around the holidays, if you’re smart about it.

  29. AstroWorn2010 says:

    This is my first year in nearly 11 that I haven’t worked in retail, so NO I will not be a part of the Xmas shopping maddness! Do you really need to get up at 4am for the “doorbuster!?”
    I will however spend more time with friends and family, maybe buy a round or two of drinks and enjoy the time off for a change.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Doorbusters? Ha! I did 98% of my Christmas shopping online. Retailers love to roll out free shipping and discounts.

      • AstroWorn2010 says:

        You are one of the good ones.
        Last black Friday I had to break up a fight over a Wii Fit, that’s when I knew I had to change careers.

  30. keepntabs says:

    Just like AndyB2260, I don’t buy Christmas presents, but instead give gifts throughout the year when I feel like doing it. Why should I: 1) give a gift to people to celebrate someone else’s birthday, or 2) wait until a certain of the year to give someone a gift? I a see something that I think someone should have I give it to them now; there’s no guarantee either of us will be around at Christmas time.

    Since I don’t buy Christmas presents for others, I generally do a lot of shopping for myself during the holidays if there are some good deals to be had. Last year with the help of Bing Cash Back, I saved a lot of money. Unfortunately, that program no longer exists, but there are a lot of other rewards and cash back programs. So, this year like so many previous years, if I see something that I want to buy, and can get it at a very acceptable price, I’ll pull the proverbial trigger.

  31. TheGreySpectre says:

    About the same on people but more for the season in general as in addition to shopping for people I am also expensive computer parts.

  32. anarkie says:

    Spending a little more than last year. My pay is finally back to normal after almost 3 years of learning to live on less. That said, We’re still not going back to what we used to spend. Can’t risk it, and still catching up.

  33. Arcaeris says:

    Ugh, my baby brother and sister are now old enough to remember if I’m a cheap ass, so I’ll have to get them something.

    However, my total budget is less (I’m trying to pay off credit card debt) so maybe I’ll just make up for it in later years when they’ll think I’m cool.

  34. human_shield says:

    I was broke last year and I’m broke this year, so I’m spending nothing, but technically my answer is about the same.

  35. privax says:

    Much less considering this holiday season I’m actually single.

  36. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    I always make most of my gifts, so probably about the same. Although I might spend more on some people over others.

  37. JulesNoctambule says:

    Much less this year, but that’s because the spouse has decided that none of the rude, smug catholics on his side get gifts this year thanks to the way they treat me. That narrows it down to his parents, one cousin and an uncle — substantially cheaper! In a not-that-shocking turn of events, using the same standard, everyone in my family will be getting a present.

  38. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Please, its not even Thanksgiving yet >_<

  39. junip says:

    I’m actually spending about the same amount on gifts this year as I did last year (which wasn’t much because I handmade a bunch of ornaments), but I marked “much less” because I just flew all the way across the country last month to get married near my family, so we’re skipping our usual flight back for christmas this year. No xmas travel equals about $1,500 saved. Crazy, huh?

  40. Starfury says:

    I voted “much more” for this year. I’m planning on getting my wife a laptop ($600) and we’re going to upgrade our 32″ tube TV to a 46″ LCD. My son also wants a PS3 and is paying half for it. I’m not sure what my daughter wants though.

    Unlike many people…we’ve saved up the $$ we’re going to use on these big items and won’t be going into CC hell trying to pay it off.

  41. Blious says:

    Slightly less

    My sisters kids who are young are the problems with price as they want the pricey, new gadgets

    Everyone else accepts cheap things or personal items that dont cost much

  42. Yentaleh says:

    I’ve already started my holiday shopping…….Hanukkah comes early this year, so I have to be done by the end of November.

  43. BradenR says:

    Not exactly sure that our family tradition comes under spending or the Christmas definition of that. Through out the year, the rules are that you can buy or acquire anything for under 10.00 for someone you think might like it. That’s it. At Christmas what we might have spent is pooled and then we draw a name for our donation. We don’t get something to get rid of and someone, somewhere benefits. Except big business, guess they wouldn’t like that policy to be adopted.

  44. tbax929 says:

    I’m closing on my first house in December. So, I’m spending a lot more. But I’m spending it all on me!

    I’m usually the one who gives the most expensive, nicest gifts. Thankfully, my family understands why I won’t be doing that this Christmas. My present to them is having them over to my new house for my first time hosting Christmas. I’ll feed them and liquor them up. That’s about it.

  45. anduin says:

    well Im still living the same as I have the last few years so Ill spend within my means, just like last year, I could splurge but honestly gift giving isn’t that fun.