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How Much Do Americans Spend On Christmas? (Latest Data)

by Josh Howarth
August 6, 2022

Americans spend a lot of money over the holidays.

In fact, annual Christmas spending budgets appear to be on the rise. But how much do Americans spend on Christmas each year?

In this article we'll do a deep dive into the latest data, covering each of these subcategories:

Key 2022 American Christmas Spending Stats

  1. Americans spend approximately $1,000 on Christmas each year.
  2. 65% of US holiday budgets are assigned to gift purchases.
  3. US holiday sales have grown year-over-year for over a decade.
  4. 96% of Americans buy gifts for their families.
  5. Americans spend well over $200 a year on non-gift items.
  6. Canadians spend roughly twice as much as Americans during the holidays.
  7. On average, men spend 10% more than women on holiday purchases.
  8. The highest-spending Americans over the winter holidays are aged 45-54.
  9. The Northeast outspends the South by around $100 per person each year.
  10. Gift cards are the most popular present to receive.
  11. 43% of Americans begin Christmas shopping before the end of October.
  12. More than half (57%) of Americans shop online for holiday purchases.

Average Christmas Spending 2022

Christmas is a major expenditure for many Americans. According to the latest data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), American consumers spend an average of $997.73 on gifts and holiday items each Christmas.

american-consumer-christmas-spending-...

That’s approximately the same as the median pre-tax weekly salary of $1,001. Put another way, the average American spends about a week’s salary on Christmas gifts annually.

Here’s how that $997 dollars is spent:

Purchase Type Average Spend (2021) Percentage of Total Spend
Gifts for Family, Friends, and Coworkers $648 64.9%
Non-Gift Holiday Items (Food, Decorations, etc.) $231 23.1%
Other Non-Gift Purchases for Friends or Family $118 11.8%
Total $998 -

The data shows that almost 2/3rds of the average American’s holiday budget goes towards gifts. The rest is mainly spent on decorations and non-gift purchases (ie. travel expenses.)

Source: GoBankingRates, National Retail Federation, YouGov

US Christmas Gift Spending Over Time

The NRF reports that US holiday season retail sales have increased year-over-year since 2008.

Last year's holiday season sales were projected to be in the region of $843.4 billion to $859 billion. That’s more than double 2002’s figure of $416.4 billion.

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Here’s a more detailed look at US holiday sales over time:

Year Sales Sales Change Over Previous Year Percentage Change Over Previous Year
2002 $416.4 billion - ↑ 2.1%
2003 $437.6 billion ↑ $21.2 billion ↑ 5.1%
2004 $467.2 billion ↑ $29.6 billion ↑ 6.8%
2005 $496 billion ↑ $28.8 billion ↑ 6.2%
2006 $512.1 billion ↑ $16.1 billion ↑ 3.2%
2007 $526 billion ↑ $13.9 billion ↑ 2.7%
2008 $501.5 billion ↓ $24.5 billion ↓ 4.7%
2009 $502.7 billion ↑ $1.2 billion ↑ 0.2%
2010 $528.8 billion ↑ $26.1 billion ↑ 5.2%
2011 $553.3 billion ↑ $24.5 billion ↑ 4.6%
2012 $557.6 billion ↑ $4.3 billion ↑ 2.6%
2013 $583.5 billion ↑ $25.9 billion ↑ 2.8%
2014 $611.5 billion ↑ $28 billion ↑ 4.8%
2015 $628.2 billion ↑ $16.7 billion ↑ 2.7%
2016 $646.7 billion ↑ $18.5 billion ↑ 3.0%
2017 $679.2 billion ↑ $32.5 billion ↑ 5.0%
2018 $691.5 billion ↑ $12.3 billion ↑ 1.8%
2019 $718.6 billion ↑ $27.1 billion ↑ 3.9%
2020 $777.3 billion ↑ $58.7 billion ↑ 8.2%
2021 $886.7 billion ↑ $109.4 billion ↑ 14.1%

Despite consistent increases in annual total holiday spending, gift spending hasn’t increased in every category.

The amount spent on gifts for family members has increased year-over-year from $389 in 2008 to $514 in 2021.

Yet, average spending on gifts for friends, coworkers, and other gifts have each remained relatively stagnant.

Below is a breakdown of average holiday spending over time by gift recipient:

Year Gifts for Family Gifts for Friends Gifts for Coworkers Other Gifts
Spend Change Spend Change Spend Change Spend Change
2004 $405 - $71 - $22 - $41 -
2005 $419 ↑ $14 $79 ↑ $8 $21 ↓ $1 $44 ↑ $3
2006 $428 ↑ $9 $81 ↑ $2 $21 - $0 $42 ↓ $2
2007 $434 ↑ $6 $83 ↑ $2 $21 - $0 $35 ↓ $7
2008 $389 ↓ $65 $79 ↓ $4 $22 ↑ $1 $36 ↑ $1
2009 $387 ↓ $2 $67 ↓ $12 $19 ↓ $3 $35 ↓ $1
2010 $411 ↑ $24 $75 ↑ $8 $19 - $0 $36 ↑ $1
2011 $424 ↑ $13 $72 ↓ $3 $22 ↑ $3 $25 ↓ $11
2012 $423 ↓ $1 $75 ↑ $3 $24 ↑ $2 $28 ↑ $3
2013 $432 ↑ $9 $75 - $0 $25 ↑ $1 $27 ↓ $1
2014 $459 ↑ $17 $80 ↑ $5 $26 ↑ $1 $30 ↑ $3
2015 $471 ↑ $12 $79 ↓ $1 $26 - $0 $29 ↓ $1
2016 $486 ↑ $15 $81 ↑ $2 $26 - $0 $28 ↓ $1
2017 $478 ↓ $8 $75 ↓ $6 $25 ↓ $1 $29 ↑ $1
2018 $506 ↑ $28 $75 - $0 $26 ↑ $1 $31 ↑ $2
2019 $501 ↓ $5 $84 ↑ $9 $35 ↑ $9 $38 ↑ $7
2020 $502 ↑ $1 $80 ↓ $5 $32 ↓ $3 $36 ↓ $2
2021 $514 ↑ $12 $79 ↓ $1 $25 ↓ $7 $30 ↓ $6

And here’s a look at what percentage of Americans bought for those recipients during the same period:

Year Gifts for Family Gifts for Friends Gifts for Coworkers Other Gifts
% Change % Change % Change % Change
2004 98% - 80% - 39% - 50% -
2005 98% - 0% 81% ↑ 1% 38% ↓ 1% 48% ↓ 2%
2006 98% - 0% 83% ↑ 2% 40% ↑ 2% 52% ↑ 4%
2007 98% - 0% 80% ↓ 3% 37% ↓ 3% 47% ↓ 5%
2008 98% - 0% 80% - 0% 41% ↑ 4% 49% ↑ 2%
2009 98% - 0% 75% ↓ 5% 33% ↓ 8% 42% ↓ 7%
2010 97% ↓ 1% 74% ↓ 1% 32% ↓ 1% 45% ↑ 3%
2011 97% - 0% 74% - 0% 32% - 0% 44% ↓ 1%
2012 97% - 0% 72% ↓ 2% 32% - 0% 44% - 0%
2013 96% ↓ 1% 71% ↓ 1% 31% ↓ 1% 42% ↓ 2%
2014 97% ↑ 1% 73% ↑ 2% 35% ↑ 4% 44% ↑ 2%
2015 96% ↓ 1% 71% ↓ 2% 33% ↓ 2% 43% ↓ 1%
2016 97% ↑ 1% 71% - 0% 33% - 0% 43% - 0%
2017 97% - 0% 70% ↓ 1% 33% - 0% 44% ↑ 1%
2018 97% - 0% 70% - 0% 33% - 0% 42% ↓ 2%
2019 96% ↓ 1% 70% - 0% 34% ↑ 1% 42% - 0%
2020 96% - 0% 67% ↓ 3% 31% ↓ 3% 41% ↓ 1%
2021 96% - 0% 68% ↑ 1% 30% ↓ 1% 41% - 0%

The proportion of Americans purchasing gifts for family has remained largely unchanged over the last 15 years or so.

However, the number of people purchasing holiday gifts for friends is down 12% since 2004. And is 15% lower than the 15-year peak of 83% in 2006.

While, people purchasing for coworkers has dropped from 39% (41% high in 2008) to 30% in 2021.

And other gift purchases are being made by just 41% of Americans - down from 50% in 2004 and 52% in 2006.

The total spent on gifts for family dropped by $65 following the 2008 global financial crisis. This appeared to have a knock-on effect in 2009 for gift recipients.

That year saw the proportion of Americans buying:

  • Gifts for friends dropped 5%
  • Gifts for coworkers dropped 7%
  • Other gifts dropped 8%

According to recent data, Americans underestimate their Christmas gift spend by over $100.

A 2021 survey revealed that US citizens expected to spend an average of $886 on Christmas shopping. That’s $112 less than the average spent during that holiday season.

Unsurprisingly, the lowest expected Christmas gift spend of the 21st century came in 2008 ($616) and 2009 ($638).

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Here’s a closer look at the figures:

Year Personal Christmas Gift Spend Estimate Change Over Previous Year
2000 $817 -
2001 $794 ↓ $23
2002 $690 ↓ $104
2003 $734 ↑ $44
2004 $730 ↓ $4
2005 $763 ↑ $33
2006 $826 ↑ $63
2007 $866 ↑ $40
2008 $616 ↓ $150
2009 $638 ↑ $22
2010 $714 ↑ $76
2011 $764 ↑ $50
2012 $770 ↑ $6
2013 $704 ↓ $66
2014 $720 ↑ $16
2015 $830 ↑ $110
2016 $752 ↓ $78
2017 $862 ↑ $110
2018 $794 ↓ $68
2019 $846 ↑ $52
2020 $852 ↑ $6
2021 $886 ↑ $34

2021’s predicted Christmas spend of $886 is the highest since records began, $20 higher than 2007’s total.

Source: National Retail Federation, National Retail Federation, National Retail Federation, Gallup

US Christmas Non-Gift Spending Over Time

Christmas spending isn’t solely limited to gifts. Americans spend an average of $231 on non-gift Christmas expenses each year.

american-non-gift-christmas-spending-...

Non-gift spending has been on the rise for some time with candy & food the largest holiday expense at $115. That’s almost 2x more than decoration spending ($63).

Greeting cards & postage cost Americans an average of $29 during the holidays. While flowers cost a bit less at $24.

This is how those totals have evolved since 2004:

Year Candy and Food Decorations Greetings Cards and Postage Flowers Total
Spend Change Spend Change Spend Change Spend Change Spend Change
2004 $84 - $36 - $25 - $16 - $161 -
2005 $87 ↑ $3 $41 ↑ $5 $28 ↑ $3 $16 - $0 $172 ↑ $11
2006 $87 - $0 $44 ↑ $3 $29 ↑ $1 $18 ↑ $2 $178 ↑ $6
2007 $88 ↑ $3 $46 ↑ $2 $30 ↑ $1 $19 ↑ $1 $183 ↑ $5
2008 $79 ↓ $9 $43 ↓ $3 $27 ↓ $3 $19 - $0 $168 ↓ $15
2009 $90 ↑ $11 $41 ↓ $2 $27 - $0 $17 ↓ $2 $175 ↑ $7
2010 $90 - $0 $43 ↑ $2 $27 - $0 $18 ↑ $1 $178 ↑ $3
2011 $102 ↑ $12 $49 ↑ $6 $28 ↑ $1 $19 ↑ $1 $198 ↑ $20
2012 $101 ↓ $1 $52 ↑ $3 $29 ↑ $1 $20 ↑ $1 $202 ↑ $4
2013 $104 ↑ $3 $54 ↑ $2 $29 - $0 $22 ↑ $2 $209 ↑ $7
2014 $104 - $0 $54 - $0 $29 - $0 $20 ↓ $2 $207 ↓ $2
2015 $110 ↑ $6 $54 - $0 $29 - $0 $22 ↑ $2 $215 ↑ $8
2016 $110 - $0 $58 ↑ $4 $29 - $0 $22 - $0 $219 ↑ $4
2017 $110 - $0 $58 - $0 $28 ↓ $1 $22 - $0 $218 ↓ $1
2018 $108 ↓ $2 $58 - $0 $28 - $0 $22 - $0 $216 ↓ $2
2019 $110 ↑ $2 $61 ↑ $3 $31 ↑ $3 $25 ↑ $3 $227 ↑ $11
2020 $110 - $0 $60 ↓ $1 $32 ↑ $1 $27 ↑ $2 $229 ↑ $2
2021 $115 ↑ $5 $63 ↑ $3 $29 ↓ $3 $24 ↓ $3 $231 ↑ $2

Since 2004 ($161), the average spend on non-gifts during the Christmas period has increased by $70.

Source: National Retail Federation

Average Christmas Spending Around the World

According to WorldRemit data, the average Christmas sees Americans spend $859 per year.

Yet, that isn’t the world’s highest spender. In fact, Canadians spend around double at $1689 each year.

Having said this, of 15 selected countries, America sees the highest proportion of Christmas money spent on gifts (75%). By contrast, just 20% of Cameroon’s holiday spending goes towards gifts. While India and Uganda have close to no gift budget.

Instead, Ugandans spend 75% of their Christmas money on food. Whereas Cameroonians spend just 10%, much closer to America’s proportion of 13%.

Americans use just 12% of their holiday spending budget on decorations. Only Lebanon (10%) and the Philippines (7%) devote less of their money towards decorations from measured countries. On the other end of the spectrum, Cameroonians put 69% of their Christmas funds towards festive decor.

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Here’s a full breakdown of the data from 15 selected countries ranked by average total spending:

Rank Country Food Decorations Gifts Average Total Spent
$ % $ % $ %
1 Lebanon $748 41% $176 10% $891 49% $1,814
2 Canada $437 26% $476 28% $776 46% $1,689
3 France $308 21% $315 21% $856 58% $1,479
4 Mexico $196 20% $340 36% $421 44% $957
5 Australia $181 19% $294 32% $458 49% $932
6 US $111 13% $100 12% $648 75% $859
7 UK $193 25% $182 23% $404 52% $779
8 Philippines $334 45% $50 7% $358 48% $742
9 Cameroon $49 10% $325 69% $95 20% $469
10 Kenya $60 19% $67 22% $180 59% $307
11 Nigeria $126 43% $107 36% $61 21% $294
12 Rwanda $58 25% $87 37% $90 38% $236
13 Ghana $95 60% $26 17% $36 23% $157
14 India $61 62% $37 38% $0 0% $98
15 Uganda $33 75% $11 25% $0 0% $44

And here is how much each country spends on Christmas as a percentage of average household income:

Rank Country Average Household Income Average Total Spent Percentage of Average Household Income Spent
1 Rwanda $399 $236 59.15%
2 Cameroon $1,373 $469 34.16%
3 Philippines $3,472 $742 21.37%
4 Mexico $7,750 $957 19.08%
5 Lebanon $10,518 $1,814 17.25%
6 Nigeria $1,804 $294 16.3%
7 Ghana $1,832 $157 8.57%
8 Uganda $667 $44 6.6%
9 India $1,822 $98 5.38%
10 Canada $37,829 $1,689 4.46%
11 Kenya $6,819 $307 4.5%
12 France $40,917 $1,479 3.61%
13 Australia $42,141 $932 2.21%
14 UK $35,835 $779 2.17%
15 US $55,419 $859 1.55%

From the available data, the US spends the lowest proportion of household income on Christmas shopping at 1.55%.

Source: WorldRemit

US Christmas Spend by Demographic

US Christmas Spend by Gender

On average, men ($1,046.38) spend almost 10% more on Christmas shopping than women ($952.03).

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In terms of what the money is actually spent on, there is very little difference between men and women.

Data shows that a greater proportion of men buy gifts for coworkers (33% vs 28%). While a greater proportion of women buy candy & food (93% vs 88%).

Here are the figures in full:

Expense Proportion of Men Proportion of Women Difference
Gifts for family 96% 96% 0%
Gifts for friends 68% 69% 1% (W)
Gifts for coworkers 33% 28% 5% (M)
Other gifts 42% 40% 2% (M)
Decorations 68% 70% 2% (W)
Greetings cards and postage 69% 68% 1% (M)
Candy and food 89% 93% 4% (W)
Flowers 47% 45% 2% (M)
Non-gift 48% 47% 1% (M)

US Christmas Spend by Age

Breaking things down by age, the 45-54 years age group spend the most, averaging a figure of $1,161.98.

At almost half that total, 18-24-year-olds spend the least ($649.81).

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Here’s the data:

Age Group Spend
18-24 $649.81
25-34 $888.98
35-44 $1,083.74
45-54 $1,161.98
55-64 $999.22
65+ $1,077.41

Between 95% and 97% of each age group buy gifts for their families.

Buying gifts for friends decreases rather consistently with age. At 18-24, 80% of Americans buy gifts for friends. By 45-54 this figure drops to 71%. And at 65+ just 56% buy Christmas presents for their friends.

Purchasing gifts for coworkers increases gradually from 37% to 42% to 46% in the first three age groups. But quickly drops to 38%, then 22%, then 6% thereafter.

A similar, but less drastic pattern can be seen for other gifts, with the peak figure of 47% coming at 35-44.

Decorations are predominately bought by under 55s with between 73% and 80% of each age group getting involved. Less than half (49%) of 65+ year-olds buy Christmas decorations.

Greetings card purchases seem to increase with age. 57% of 18 to 24-year-olds buy Christmas cards, compared to 70% of 35 to 44-year-olds and 75% Americans aged 65+.

Little difference is seen between age groups for purchasing habits of candy & food (each between (88% and 94%). As is the case with flowers (40% to 52%).

Spending on non-gifts significantly decreases in the latter three age groups, down from 60% for 35 to 44-year-olds to 29% for people aged 65+.

US Christmas Spend by Region

Split across four regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West), the US is fairly evenly distributed in terms of Christmas spending.

There is less than a $100 difference between the biggest average spenders in the Northeast ($1,054.35) and the lowest in the South ($954.52).

The second-highest spenders reside in the West ($1,017.20). While the Midwest averages a holiday spend of ($995.68)

Here are the most notable takeaways from regional purchasing figures:

  • The vast majority (96%) of residents in each region buy gifts for their families
  • 46% of the Northeast purchase other gifts compared to 39% of the West
  • 4-5% more people in the Northeast buy greetings cards than the rest of the US
  • At least 90% of each region purchases candy & food
  • 49% of the West buy flowers compared to 40% of the Midwest
  • The Northeast ranked highest in 5 of 9 spending categories
  • The Midwest ranked lowest in 5 of 9 spending categories

Source: National Retail Federation

Holiday Gift Type by Demographic

Christmas Gift Preference by Gender

On average, US men and women have significant differences in Christmas gift preference.

us-christmas-preferences-min.png

Despite this, gift cards ranked first as the preferred type of Christmas gift for both men and women. And clothing & accessories was second for both, too.

Here’s a breakdown of how popular each type of gift is for both men and women in the US:

Gift Type Rank (Men) Popularity (Men) Rank (Women) Popularity (Women) Difference
Gift cards 1 48% 1 64% 16% (W)
Clothing & accessories 2 44% 2 50% 6% (W)
Books & other media =3 33% 3 32% 1% (M)
Electronics & accessories =3 33% 7 20% 13% (M)
Sporting goods 5 23% 9 10% 13% (M)
Home improvement items 6 19% 8 14% 5% (M)
Home decor & furnishings 7 15% 4 31% 16% (W)
Jewelry 8 12% 6 28% 16% (W)
Personal care & beauty 9 10% 5 30% 20% (W)
Other 10 7% 10 7% 0%

Christmas Gift Preference by Age

Age also appears to significantly affect Christmas gift preferences in the US.

On average, more young adults want clothing & accessories. The percentage of people who would like clothes decreases at a fairly consistent rate from 65% in the 18-24 years category to 30% in 65+.

This is also the case with books & other media, decreasing with each advancing age category from 43% to 25%.

In fact, this trend can be seen across 5 of 10 categories. Electronics & accessories drops from 38% to 12%. Home decor & furnishings fall from 33% to 10%. And jewelry drops down from 32% to 12%.

A preference for sporting goods remains fairly stable (between 22% and 23%) for the youngest three age categories (18 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44). But drops thereafter, falling to 8% for the 65+ category.

Home improvement items have a stable preference across the board at 14% to 22% for under 64s.

The final two categories each see increasing desire with age.

Gift cards rise with each age group from 25 to 34-year-olds at 49% to 65+ at 63%. And the other category has its highest three percentages in ascending order of the oldest three age groups, peaking at 14%.

Christmas Gift Preference by Region

In terms of demographics, US regions appear to have the least influence over gift preference.

Only one gift category has a difference in gift preference greater than 5% - gift cards. 61% of the Midwest would like to receive a gift card compared to 54% for folks living in West.

gift-card-receiving-min.png

The average percentage of Americans who said they would like a gift from any given category is as follows:

  • Midwest - 27.3%
  • South - 26.6%
  • West - 26.5%
  • Northeast - 26%

Source: National Retail Federation

US Holiday Shopping Preferences

Almost half the US population starts Christmas shopping before the end of October (43%).

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A further 25% of Americans begin their festive purchases before Thanksgiving. While 19% start on or after Thanksgiving.

Around 1 in 18 (12%) of US citizens wait until December to buy holiday-related items. And unsurprisingly, just 1% do their Christmas shopping after the fact in January.

Where US consumers shop also varies considerably.

Over half of Americans do some of their Christmas shopping online (57%).

While just 1 in 20 people (5%) do their festive shopping via a catalog.

us-holiday-shopping-methods-min.png

Here are how the 13 named shopping methods rank:

Rank Shopping Method Proportion of Americans Who Do This
1 Online 57%
2 Department store 47%
3 Discount store 44%
4 Grocery store/supermarket 43%
5 Clothing or accessories store 30%
6 Local/small business 24%
7 Electronics store 20%
8 Crafts or fabrics store 16%
9 Drugstore 12%
10 Other speciality store 11%
11 Outlet stores 10%
12 Thrift stores/resale shops 9%
13 Catalog 5%
14 Other 4%

And 64% of Americans agree that sales or price discounts are important when Christmas shopping.

More than half of US citizens also think that quality of merchandise (58%) and selection of merchandise (57%) are important.

Layaway services are deemed the least important (4%) aspect of holiday shopping.

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These are the full results of the 2021 survey:

Rank Aspect of Shopping Percentage Who Agree Aspect is Important
1 Sales or price discount 64%
2 Quality of merchandise 58%
3 Selection of merchandise 57%
4 Free shipping/shipping promotions 47%
5 Convenient location 41%
6 Everyday low prices 40%
7 Easy-to-use website or mobile site 33%
8 No hassle return policy 29%
9 Helpful, knowledgeable customer service 24%
10 Layaway services 4%
11 Other 1%

Source: Deloitte, National Retail Federation

Conclusion

The holiday season is evidently an expensive time for the average American. And a lucrative time for business.

Data suggests that spending is likely to continue as long as the global economy remains relatively stable.

If you found our stats on American Christmas spending interesting, give our ​important shopping trends and important retail trends a go.