Personal Finance

Holiday Shopping Statistics: Are You Average?

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How much do you plan to spend on holiday gifts this year? If you’re average, you’ve probably budgeted about $710*, but watch out. If you spend like many of us did last year, you’ll need to dig up an extra $100. That’s because nearly forty percent of us went over budget in 2009, plunking down a total of $810 on average for gifts.

If your family pulls in a six figure income, though, both of those figures are way too low. If you want to keep up with other high earners, plan to spend an average of $1384 on gifts this year.

Of course, you may be able to get away with spending nothing on holiday presents if you’re a frugal guy. Just count yourself among the 12% of men who plan to purchase no gifts at all. (You’d better hope that your family, friends or coworkers don’t mind you playing Scrooge.)

But if you’re a woman, forget about it. You’ll have a really tough time pulling off a no-gift holiday. 100% of women surveyed say they will be shopping for holiday presents.

Short on funds this year? You may be able to cash in reward points for gift cards or presents, or go through the junk drawer and find unused gift cards that you can re-gift or use to shop. Don’t feel too guilty if you do. There’s just over a one-in-ten chance your recipient has done the same.

But if you really want to keep your spending in line and stay out of debt, you may want to hide the credit cards until the first of the year. After all, some 13.6 million Americans started this year saddled with debt from last holiday season, and those who used plastic spent more: about $180 more.

And don’t feel like you have to keep up with the couple from Florida who has been camping out at Best Buy all week to take advantage of Black Friday sales, or drag yourself bleary-eyed into work the Monday after because you stayed up until 12:01 am on Cyber Monday to snag deals. Half of shoppers plan to sit those sales out, which means retailers are going to continue trying to lure those other shoppers in after the two big sale days.

Sometimes it pays to be average.

Sources for these statistics: American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, 2010; Source: Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll conducted 1/2010, released 11/2010; AAA’s Third Annual Holiday Shopping Consumer Pulse survey.

Image: James Jordan, via

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