Survey: Americans Plan to Spend an Average of Almost $850 on Holiday Gifts This Year

front door with christmas wreath and packages

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of year for Americans. It can also be one of the most expensive. Experian surveyed more than 1,000 adults in October 2018 to learn about their holiday shopping habits.

How Much Will the Average Consumer Spend During the Holiday Season?

The average American consumer plans to spend an average of $846 on gifts this season—a 14% increase from last year, according to a recent survey by Experian.

According to Experian's findings, millennial shoppers expect to spend approximately $1,034 on gifts this holiday season; Baby Boomers said they plan to spend approximately $811, and Gen X-ers reported they will shell out around $711.

The survey revealed that men, on average, expected to spend more than women on holiday gifts this year. According to the survey, men said they planned to spend a little more than $1,050, while women estimated they would only spend $719.

How Are Americans Going to Pay for Gifts During the Holidays?

Even with this year's increase in holiday spending, a growing number of people still plan to use cash for their holiday purchases.

Nearly 70% of Gen X-ers said they would use cash or debit cards for their purchases. The majority of millennials also said they planned to use cash and debit cards for their holiday spending.

While members of all generations planned to put some spending on major credit cards, more than half of all Baby Boomers surveyed said they expected to use credit for their purchases. Less than a quarter of Baby Boomers planned to buy gifts with debit cards.

When Are Americans Going to Spend the Most During the Holidays?

When it comes to waiting until the last minute or shopping well in advance, Americans are divided: 35% of people surveyed said they plan to begin most of their shopping a few months in advance. Another 30% said they would wait until closer to the holidays so they could get last-minute deals. Nearly 20% of shoppers said they would make their purchases on Black Friday, and another 13% said they would shop on Cyber Monday.

Within these groups of shoppers, people with higher incomes—$100,000 or more—typically planned to make their purchases several months in advance. More than a third of people making $50,000 or less said they would make their purchases close to the holidays to get last-minute deals.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed from Generation Z—anyone born after 1996—said they planned to make their holiday purchases on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Almost half of all millennials surveyed also said they planned to make their purchases on one of the two retail holidays.

Baby Boomers were split between shopping in advance and waiting until the holidays for last-minute deals—45% said they would plan ahead, and another 42% said they would wait until the last minute.

How Do Americans Feel About Holiday Shopping?

In general, Experian's survey found that people are less anxious about this upcoming holiday season than they have been in previous years.

Since last year, shoppers reported feeling less overwhelmed, anxious and stressed when they were asked to think about holiday shopping. About the same number of people reported being as excited, joyful and generous as they did this time last year.

When asked what part of the holidays they disliked, 23% of people said they hated dealing with the crowds the most. Another 20% complained about picking the right gifts, while 19% said that the worst part of the holiday season was not having enough money for gifts.

Among the people that were stressed about the holidays, 57% agreed that holiday shopping put a strain on their finances. This strain was reportedly lower among people 55 and older and those making $100,00 or more annually.

Nearly a quarter—22%—of those surveyed reported that holiday shopping would adversely affect their credit scores. Millennials were the most worried, with 32% saying that they were afraid holiday shopping would negatively affect their credit scores.