CardRatings survey shows that 21% of people plan to spend more money on holiday spending this year

Written by
Geoff Williams
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If you have more gifts than usual under the Christmas tree this year, or you’re able to give more gifts than you usually do, interestingly, you may have the pandemic to thank.

That’s one of the surprising conclusions from our latest holiday money habits survey, which surveyed 1,000 Americans nationwide.

While 40% of those surveyed said that the pandemic didn’t have an overall effect on their gift-giving plans, 21% of respondents said they actually had more money to spend on holiday shopping this year.

That’s because they ended up saving money that would have otherwise throughout the year been spent on travel, dining and other costs; expenses that were shuttered due to sheltering-in-place during the pandemic.

The pandemic, in fact, has affected Americans’ holiday shopping in a multitude of ways.

Some Americans’ ability to holiday shop has been damaged

Not everybody has more money for holiday shopping this year. When the pandemic first started reshuffling the economy in March and April, 22 million jobs were lost – and many of those jobs have not yet returned. For those people, the pandemic has been an economic disaster.

So it isn’t a surprise that 16% of respondents said that they had less money for holiday shopping due to a loss of income.

Meanwhile, you could keep your job and still find yourself spending more than you anticipated. Fifteen percent of respondents said that they plan to spend more this year on holiday shopping, or rather, on holiday shipping. Because these respondents no longer plan to travel to visit family and friends, they expect to spend more to ship holiday gifts to loved ones.

As noted, 40% of respondents said that their overall gift-giving plans weren’t affected by the pandemic, but 51% said they believe whatever they end up spending per person, the amount will remain the same.

Twenty-one percent of respondents—the same number of people who said that they had more to spend on gift giving overall—said  they would spend more per person this holiday than last year.

Almost a third of respondents (28%) believe they will spend less per person this year.

As for how much people are spending, the average total gift amount per person will be almost $133 ($132.65) and the average total spend will average almost $710 ($709.76).

That’s generous, of course, but the average total spend—because of the consumers whose economies were considerably hurt by the pandemic—is down significantly from last year. During the holiday season of 2019, consumers were spending on their credit cards an average of $1,214.

The pandemic may help some Americans avoid carrying holiday debt

Perhaps due to having extra money this holiday season, many people don’t expect to leave the holiday season in too much debt, which is an improvement from last year.

In last year’s survey, 49% of respondents said that they would pay off everything in full on their credit cards at the end of each cycle throughout the holiday season.

This year, 66% of respondents said that they expect to pay everything off in full and on time.

Of course, some credit card users are

Geoff Williams
CardRatings Contributor

Geoff is a freelance journalist and has been since the 1990s. He specializes in personal finance and small business issues and has seen his work published with numerous news outlets including The Wall Street Journal,, Reuters, The Washington Post and Consumer Reports. He also...Read more

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