Moms, Pets Top Holiday Gift Lists

More than half of Gen Z shoppers would go into debt for mom’s present
A toddler and a dog in festive headbands

When it comes to holiday spending, consumers are willing to be more generous with some than others, and a new survey suggests that moms and pets top that list.

Financial services company Union Bank commissioned market research firm Edelman Intelligence to survey 1,000 adults to find out how they were planning to spend their holiday budgets. They learned that consumers had very clear ideas about where they planned to spend their money, and where they were likely to cut back.

Not only were consumers willing to go all out to make sure their mothers had the holiday seasons of their dreams, but many were willing to go into debt to do so — particularly the youngest shoppers. More than half of Gen Z shoppers (57%) said they would be willing to go into debt to buy the perfect gift for mom, compared to 33% of millennials and 21% of Gen X shoppers. (Gen Z includes adults age 22 and under, millennials are those between ages 23 and 38 and Gen Xers are between 39 and 54, according to Pew Research.)

Some pets may also have a stocking hanging from the mantel, as 81% of consumers said they will purchase a gift for their furry friends. Among Gen Zers, 20% of respondents said they would spend more than $50 on their pets.

While respondents were clear about how much they plan to spend on moms and pets, they had less clarity about spending on a significant other. In fact, some couples seem to have their wires crossed when it comes to how much each partner should spend on the other’s gift, the survey suggests. Half of respondents who were in a relationship said they believe they spend more on their significant other’s gift than that person spends on them, with men (58%) being more likely to feel this way than women (38%).

Though giving to others is the theme of the season, some respondents believe it’s equally important to give to themselves. In fact, 20% of Gen Z respondents said they planned to spend more than $250 on gifts for themselves this year.

While consumers are generous when it comes to certain gifts, there were other holiday-related activities that they were less enthusiastic about. More than half of respondents — 54% — said they would prefer to skip attending the holiday party at work because they considered it a waste of money.

Some consumers also admitted to using money as an excuse to get out of holiday-related events. For example, 30% of respondents said they use this excuse to get out of traveling home for the holidays, with 44% of millennials backing out of holiday travel plans in this way.

Part of creating a holiday budget is determining how much you plan to allot for gift-giving and other activities. If you’re not sure how much to budget, consider how much the average consumer spent in previous years. When it’s time to do your actual shopping, look for ways to make your money go further. For example, you might take advantage of credit cards that offer cash back for holiday spending — as long as you plan to pay off your balance in its entirety.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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