Survey: Many consumers 'dreading' holiday spending

Zachary Russell
Digital Editor
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A third (31%) of those surveyed think it’s possible holiday spending could send them into debt this year.

Nearly half of Americans are “dreading” the holidays this year due to increased costs.

That's according to a new consumer survey from LendingTree, which found that that 47% of Americans are concerned about high costs this holiday season, and that number grows to 60% among parents with children younger than 18. Americans expect to spend an average of $654 on holiday gifts this year, and almost a third (31%) think it’s possible this spending could send them into debt.

Younger consumers are more likely to feel holiday stress than older consumers, leading with Gen Zers ages 18 to 26 (60%), followed by Millennials ages 27 to 42 (59%), Gen Xers ages 43 to 58 (43%) and Baby boomers ages 59 to 77 (27%). By income group, lower income individuals are more stressed than high earners. While half (50%) of those earning between $35,000 and $49,999 say they’re worried about holiday costs, just 42% of six-figure earners say similarly.

“The holiday season is stressful for most anyone,” said LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz. “There’s the pressure of wanting to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list (and, for parents, finding the kiddos’ gifts can be particularly stressful). There’s also travel, hosting family and friends from out of town, organizing holiday parties and 7 million other things to add to your already jam-packed to-do list. In so many ways, it really is the most wonderful time of the year, but it most definitely isn’t in a lot of other ways.”

Half (50%) of Americans say they plan to spend the same amount this year, while 30% plan to spend less and 20% plan to spend more. By demographic, Gen Zers (33%), six-figure earners (31%) and parents with kids younger than 18 (30%) are the most likely to increase their spending compared to last year.

A third (31%) of Americans think it’s possible holiday spending could send them into debt. Among the 16% who are sure they’ll go into debt, 44% say it would take more than a month but less than six to pay it off.

With high holiday costs looming, half (50%) of parents with kids younger than 18 say they’re worried about disappointing their children if they don’t spend enough on their holiday gifts this year, increasing to 54% among Millennial parents and 53% among fathers. 

More than half (52%) of Americans are giving up other expenses to pay for the holidays, with more than a third (32%) cutting back on items for themselves. Dining out or buying coffee (18%) and putting less into savings (15%) were also common responses. 

To combat high costs, 52% of those surveyed said they planned to take advantage of sales like Black Friday, with Gen Zers (68%) and parents with kids younger than 18 (67%) the most likely to do so. On average, Americans are waiting to buy about half (46%) of their gifts until they’re on sale.