39% of Consumers Can't Afford to Buy as Many Gifts This Holiday Season

39% of Consumers Can't Afford to Buy as Many Gifts This Holiday Season

Despite having less available funds, many are looking for ways to increase holiday joy and giving this year
decorating holiday cookies as gifts

The holiday season last year was certainly one to remember, although perhaps not for the usual reasons. As a result, many want to add even more holiday joy to their celebrations in 2021.

In Coinstar's annual holiday survey, the company revealed that while 64% of Americans are looking forward to the holiday season this year, financial issues may put a damper on their celebration plans.

Nearly 2 in 5 (39%) of consumers say they can't afford to buy as many gifts this year. For just over a third of this group (34%), a lack of funds from being out of work or having a lower-paying job is the main reason why.

Fewer people have money available to spend on holiday gifts this year

According to the Coinstar survey, only 59% of Americans have a holiday spending budget this year — a decrease from the 67% who said the same in 2019 before the pandemic.

Still, that may not be enough to curb holiday overspending. A previous survey from Affirm found that 7 in 10 consumers usually go over budget during the winter holidays, a trend that may take place at greater scale in 2021 since consumers plan to spend even more this time around.

Perhaps this is why 28% of respondents are likely to regift to others this holiday season, while another 52% plan to cash in or use their spare change at home (an estimated $123 on average this year, compared to $70 in 2019).

The report also showed that, this year, 68% of Americans prefer cash or gift cards over physical gifts from their loved ones — a potential boon to gift givers, especially as current supply chain issues may affect the ability of shoppers to get presents their loved ones may want.

Others, however, may not get gifts at all: 13% of respondents said they don't plan on giving gifts to friends or family members who don't share their views on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some plan on getting into the holiday giving spirit in other ways

Despite the expected financial struggles, 31% of Americans are looking forward to the holiday season more than last year.

A similar number of respondents plan to donate their money or time to charity this winter, or increase their giving to others in their lives. For instance, 57% of consumers say they tip service providers such as their housekeepers, trash collectors, child care providers and mail carriers during the holidays.

Many survey participants also have plans to start or do more of the following holiday activities at the end of the year:

  • Baking holiday treats (80%)
  • Driving around to enjoy holiday decorations and lights (77%)
  • Attending holiday parties (60%)
  • Decorating their workspace or office (45%)
  • Participating in caroling with others (32%)

Methodology: On behalf of Coinstar, Atomik Research conducted an online survey between Sept. 4-8, 2021 of 2,007 American adults who give gifts to others in observance of a winter holiday.