Survey: Understanding the Financial Stress of the Holiday Season

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The holidays are here and it can be a stressful time for many. Between gift buying and travelling, it can also be an expensive time of year. We wanted to learn more about consumer’s relationship to holiday spending and financial stress, so we conducted a survey of more than 1,500 Americans in November on the topic of holiday spending. 

Here are a few key highlights from our findings:

Financial stress around the holidays is real 

  • 67% of Americans consider the winter holiday season to be the most financially stressful season of the year. 
  • 60% of Americans find holiday gift-buying to be the most financially stressful event of the year followed by tax season (24%). 

How spending and gift giving plays a role

  • Nearly half of Americans (49%) say it is likely they will carry a balance on their credit card after the holidays this year due to holiday-related expenses. 
  • Of those who will carry a balance on their credit card after the holidays due to holiday-related expenses, almost half (48%) of Americans think they will add $500 or more to their credit card balance after the holiday season this year.
  • Nearly two thirds of Americans (65%) say that it is likely that they will end up spending more money than they’d like this holiday season.
  • 62% of Americans are likely to choose to receive no gifts this holiday season, in exchange for avoiding the financial expense and hassle of buying gifts for others this year.
  • 43% of Americans start planning for holiday expenses 1 to 2 months in advance.

How travel plays a role

  • Of those who book holiday travel, 60% of Americans are willing to travel on an actual holiday to save on travel costs.
  • Almost two-thirds of Americans who are traveling for the holidays (63%) never fly first class..
  • Almost three-quarters of Americans (74%) actively look for travel deals if they book travel for the holidays.
  • More than half of Americans traveling for the holidays (53%) will try to use their travel rewards from their credit cards to cover their holiday travel costs.

Holiday Spending Survey was conducted by Marcus by Goldman Sachs® in November of 2019 among 1,509 Americans. 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.