Reports vary on consumer spending during 2023 holiday shopping season

As holiday shopping gets started, a WalletHub survey reveals more than 1 in 3 Americans will not give gifts this year due to inflation.

The financial health company’s research shows lingering holiday debt is a problem: Nearly 1 in 4 Americans are still paying for items they purchased during the holidays in 2022. Charitable giving is also affected by inflation, WalletHub reports. Half of survey respondents said they are going to have to be less generous this year.

Other key findings in the holiday shopping survey:

  • 23% of Americans will make a holiday purchase based on social media.
  • 35% of people find coming up with gift ideas to be the biggest stress during the holidays, and 28% say it’s the crowds in stores.

The National Retail Federation tells a different story: In a report released in early November, the NRF says 2023 will be a record spending year and growth is predicted to reach $957,3 billion to $966.6 billion.

It is an increase of 3-4% over 2022.

“It is not surprising to see holiday sales growth returning to pre-pandemic levels. Overall household finances remain in good shape and will continue to support the consumer’s ability to spend,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Online sales are expected to rise as much as 9% over the previous year.

“Consumers remain in the driver’s seat, and are resilient despite headwinds of inflation, higher gas prices, stringent credit conditions and elevated interest rates,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in the news release. “We expect spending to continue through the end of the year on a range of items and experiences, but at a slower pace. Solid job and wage growth will be contributing factors this holiday season, and consumers will be looking for deals and discounts to stretch their dollars.”

NRF reports retailers will hire up to 450,000 seasonal workers to meet the demand of the holiday shopping season, which started earlier than ever with gift purchases beginning before November.

Forbes shows American holiday spending trends going up as well. Food and festive meals will be one of the largest expenses for people this holiday season.

“There might be talk of consumer spending slow-downs, but it isn’t impacting holiday season budgets,” Forbes Advisor shows in its 2023 American Holiday Trends report. “A significant portion of [survey] respondents (45%) expect to spend about the same amount as they did last year for holiday events, gifts and other expenses while another 36% intend to increase their budgets.”

But that doesn’t mean they are using money they already have to pay for it.

“Of Americans who intend to host Thanksgiving, 58% anticipate using credit cards and accumulating debt to help cover costs. The figure jumps to 67% among Gen Z respondents,” the Forbes Advisor report states.

“‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ payment methods are a popular alternative to traditional credit card financing, with 40% of respondents electing to use this method for expenses related to Thanksgiving and 33% expecting to use it for holiday gift shopping.”

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