Consumers Expect to Spend Less on Holiday Items in 2023

US Consumers Look to Spend More on Gifts, but Much Less on Non-Gift Items

According to The Conference Board Holiday Spending Survey, US consumers plan to spend an average of $985 on holiday-related items in 2023, less than the $1,006 reported in 2022. As part of this total, consumers intend to spend an average of $654 on holiday gifts, up 6.7% from $613 last year. By contrast, consumers expect to spend much less on holiday-related non-gift items this year—only $330 compared to $393 in 2022, a 16% decline.

“October’s Consumer Confidence Index® suggests Americans are entering the holiday season in a somewhat cautious mood, with the overall, present situation, and expectations indexes all seeing dips,” said Dana M. Peterson, Chief Economist at The Conference Board. “The softening in confidence may have affected overall holiday spending plans. Planned spending on non-gift items fell materially this year. Notably, food—a common non-gift holiday item—is expected to cost more this year compared to last, which may have lowered consumers’ desire to purchase non-gift items. However, consumers still seem to want to engage in some holiday cheer, as reflected in a rebound in gift spending after last year’s slump. The uptick in intended gift-giving is despite consumers’ expectation of higher costs for such items.”

Peterson added: “Consumers under 45 years of age are planning to spend less on gifts this year compared to last, while consumers 45 and older expect to spend more. Slightly more consumers plan to purchase the majority of their gifts online compared to last year. Among gift categories, consumers are more likely to purchase gift cards, vacation and travel, and toys and games. Home décor, beauty products, and books/music/DVDs are less popular gifts compared to last year. Few consumers plan to travel for the holidays, but if they do, it will be by automobile.”

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Costs for holiday food and gifts are expected to be higher:

  • Around 6 in 10 consumers expect to pay more for gifts and food this year compared to last year.

Older consumers plan to spend more on gifts this year, while younger consumers are cutting back:

  • Nevertheless, consumers under 45 are still planning to spend more on gifts than older consumers—but this gap has closed considerably compared to 2022.

Consumers are heading back online for gift-shopping:

  • 46% of consumers expect to purchase at least half of their gifts online in 2023.
  • That’s up from 39% in 2022—and closer to the pandemic peak of 52% in 2020.

Purchasing patterns reveal a penchant for gift cards and travel:

  • Consumers are more likely to purchase gift cards, followed by vacation and travel, and toys and games.
  • Consumers are less likely to give home décor, beauty products, and books/music/DVDs as gifts.

Consumers plan to stay home for the holidays:

  • 69% of consumers intend to spend the holidays at home instead of traveling.
  • Of those traveling, 51% plan to drive to their holiday destinations.

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ConsumersHolidayholiday-related itemsNewsSpend LessThe Conference Board Holiday Spending SurveyUS consumers plan