Christmas Shopping Statistics Simplified
With the holiday season fast approaching, you may find yourself having more questions than answers. What is it that women really want for Christmas? Come to think of it, what is it that men want? And how many of us graciously accept our gifts with a smile just to turn around and sell it on eBay at the first opportunity?
There’s only one way to get to the bottom of these questions, by asking! We teamed up with CensusWide and surveyed a whopping 2,005 adults in the UK and 2,055 adults in the US to get the answers to these burning questions and more! So buckle up, get a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate, put on some Christmas music in the background, and prepare yourself for the good, bad, and the rather cheeky British and American Christmas habits. Some of the answers may shock you!
When do we start our Christmas gift shopping?
- 28.8% of US adults start their Christmas shopping in November
- 24.4% of UK adults start their Christmas shopping in November
Let’s face it, not everyone actually enjoys Christmas shopping. It can be a tad overwhelming to find that perfect gift, especially when you have a long laundry list of people to shop for. Some of us like to get everything done months in advance, and some of us, like myself, are making a mad dash to the store to get those last-minute gifts that we somehow forgot! Where do you fall in this category and when is the perfect time to start shopping? In our poll, we found out the answer to this question and more! According to our results, 28.8% of US adults and 24.4% of UK adults start their shopping in November. We also found out that the “Man Dash” is a real thing! Men are 3 times more likely in the US and 4 times more likely in the UK than women to start their shopping during the last week before Christmas! Can anyone say procrastination?!
Deck the Halls with UK Answers
How Many Gifts are We Giving and Receiving?
- Average Brit receives 7.1 gifts
- Average Brit gives 10.75 gifts
- Men are giving an average of 5.82 gifts
- Women are giving an average of 8.2 gifts
One of the bigger issues we tend to run into during our Christmas shopping is when to draw the line in the sand, so to speak. It can be rather challenging to decide how many presents are enough and whether the number of presents we give should be equal to the number of gifts that we receive. According to our survey results, the average Brit receives 7.1 gifts on Christmas, but are actually giving 10.75 each!
Now nobody wants to be viewed as the Scrooge in the family, but where do you draw the line in terms of gift giving? Although the average Brit gives 7.1 gifts each Christmas, there is a distinct difference between the men and the women. While men are giving an average of 5.82 gifts each year, women are giving an astonishing 8.2 gifts each year! If that’s not shocking enough, more than 1 in 10 women are giving out more than 20 gifts every year. And to think for all of these years I thought Santa was a man!
So Who Do We Actually Splash the Cash For?
- Average Spent on Spouses £96.64
- Average Amount Women Spend on Spouses £91.24
- Average Amount Men Spend on Spouses £103.18
According to this survey, we spend an average of £96.64 on our spouses for Christmas. It should come as little to no surprise that we spend more on gifts for our spouses than we do on our parents, adult children, in-laws, and even our best friends. As we recently discovered, the women are the ones who tend to buy the most gifts, but it’s the men that spend the most money on their partners in crime during the holiday season. On average, women are spending £91.24 while the men are spending £103.18. Maybe this has more to do with us women having more expensive taste?! Despite the high average though, I sadly report that almost 1 in 10 Brits spend absolutely nothing on their spouse/partner for Christmas! And it’s not just spouses that are waking up to an empty stocking and no presents under the tree, 36% of men and 20% of women state that they spend nothing on their best friends! It sounds like some people are getting the raw end of the deal here.
What Women REALLY Want for Christmas
- 55% of women want jewelry
- 48% of women want clothing
- 32% of women want a handmade gift
Now that we touched base on who we are spending the most on, it’s time to get down to the real question at hand. What is it that women really want for Christmas? But before we can answer that, let’s look at what women have been getting in the past for gifts. Roughly 50% of women say that they have received clothing as a gift and nearly 53% say that they have received jewelry. This may not seem very shocking because clothing and jewelry tend to be the “go to” items when it comes to shopping for women. The real question is whether or not women are actually getting what they want for Christmas. According to this survey, men do have a pretty good idea of what women want because 48% of women say that they would want clothing as a gift and 55% say that they want jewelry, but don’t get too excited just yet! Just when you think that you have women figured out, we throw you a curveball! Even though the numbers are high in the clothing and jewelry selection, a staggering 32% of women say they would still prefer a handmade gift! So, it looks like you men will have to brush up on your arts and crafts if you really want to make your spouse/partner happy this Christmas!
- 50% of women have received clothing as a gift
- 53% of women have received jewelry as a gift
What Men REALLY Want
- 40% of men want clothing
- 32% of men want footwear
Men may not seem as complicated as women, but they definitely have their own unique wants when it comes to gifts. Before we dive into the deep end of that pool, let’s take a peek at what men said they have received in the past for Christmas gifts. Clothing seems to be at the top of this list according to 49% of men, which really isn’t too surprising since women tend to be more “in the know” when it comes to the latest fashion trends. What is a little shocking is that 28% of men report getting chocolate as a gift, which is neck and neck with the 27% who say that they have received footwear as a gift! You men might not want to hear this, but the women in your lives know you more than you give them credit for. According to this survey, 40% of men say that they mainly want clothing as a gift, while 32% say that they want footwear. Hats off to the women for knowing their men and what kind of gifts that they would like!
- 49% of men have received clothing as a gift
- 28% of men have received chocolate as a gift
- 27% of men have received footwear as a gift
Technology versus Traditional: Which one prevails?
- 26.3% would like a physical book versus 7.8% who would like an Ebook
- 21.6% would like a DVD versus 7.6% who would like a movie download
In today’s forever evolving world of technology, you might think that fancy gadgets and the latest trends in the technology industry would be a safe bet as far as gifts go, but you would be guessing wrong. In a world full of smartphones that can take voice commands, refrigerators that talk, and smartwatches that can make phone calls for you, people still tend to lean more towards traditional gifts than technology. In this study, we have determined that physical books are 3 times more popular as a gift than an ebook, with a whopping 26.3% saying they would like a real book versus the 7.8% that said they would prefer a downloadable book. This also holds true for DVD’s, with 21.6% of Brits stating that they would rather get a DVD as a gift compared to the 7.6% who said they would prefer a movie download.
- 42% of women and 28% of men would be happy with chocolates as a gift
- 26% of women and 21% of men would be happy with a smartphone
It may also come as a shocker that traditional gifts such as flowers, chocolates, and diamonds are still more popular than all of those smart, high-tech gadgets. Almost 28% of men and 42% of women said they would be happy with chocolates for a gift versus 21% of men and 26% of women who said they would be happier with a smartphone. Who would’ve guessed that something as simple as chocolate could make someone’s day? I guess there is some truth behind the statement, “the way to one’s heart is through their stomach”!
Pretend that you LOVE it!
- 45% of women have lied about liking a gift
- 27% of men have lied about liking a gift
Since we have talked about what kind of gifts men and women want for Christmas, we should probably talk about what we do with those gifts that we don’t like. Let’s face it, there has been a point in everyone’s life where we have received a gift that we don’t necessarily like or just plain don’t have any use for. Maybe it was a tacky looking sweater, that doesn’t necessarily go with your sense of style or the inevitable socks and underwear that were almost always used as stocking stuffers, but at some point, we have received a gift that we didn’t really care for. In this study, we found that nearly 37% of people lie about liking a gift, and women rank as the highest offenders of this crime coming in at a whopping 45% versus roughly 27% of men. Maybe women are just more polite and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but one thing’s for sure, if a woman doesn’t like your gift, she would rather lie about it than tell you she doesn’t like it or has no use for it!
Regifting and Ebaying
- 23% of Brits have regifted unwanted gift
- 24.% of women have sold unwanted gift on eBay
- 14.1% of men have sold unwanted gift on eBay
While we are on the subject of lying about liking a gift, we also asked what people do with their unwanted gifts and the answers might shock you! A total of 23% of Brits confessed to regifting their unwanted present to someone else and a staggering 19.7% admitted to actually selling their unwanted gifts on eBay or a similar platform without the giver ever knowing about it. That averages out to 1 in every 5 people! What is even more shocking is that women are nearly twice as likely to commit the crime of regifting than men! So not only are women better liars, but we are also guilty of committing the cheapest of crimes by giving an old gift of ours that we didn’t like versus shopping for a new gift!
How Do We Fund it All?
- 37.8% of Brits have used a credit card
- 12.2% have taken out a loan
- 11.7% have borrowed money from a friend/family member
With all of this talk about Christmas presents, who wants what, and how many presents we are giving and receiving, we also thought it was important to ask how people are funding Christmas. Despite all of the fun and festivities that surround the holiday season, Christmas can prove to be rather expensive and can be a serious financial concern for so many. Our survey results revealed that 37.8% of Brits have used a credit card to buy gifts, 12.2% have taken out a loan to fund gifts, and 11.7% have borrowed money from a family member or a friend. Although there are sensible ways to use credit, using a high-interest credit card or loans can lead to a serious financial burden and no one wants to start the New Year with mounds of debt.
If you are concerned about the “do’s and don’ts” of financially funding Christmas, we touched base with a financial expert who had some really good advice on this subject. When it comes to Christmas, it is always important to remember that the holiday is more about the time spent with your family and loved ones and shouldn’t revolve around how many gifts you buy or how much you spend. “If you think you will have to resort to a taking out a credit card or a loan to keep up with previous years, talk to family members to see what they think about just buying gifts for the children rather than everyone, or perhaps saving some of the cost by not doing cards this year or everyone bring something with them to help out with the cost of hosting the day” says Holly Andrews from KIS Finance.
Financial struggles can impact you any time of year but can be even more stressful during the holiday season. Planning ahead and saving money where you can in the months leading up to Christmas can prove to be very beneficial. Holly also added, “Reduce the need to borrow by gathering up as much money as you can now. Have a clear out of things you don’t want anymore and things children have grown out of then sell it on eBay or try the local buy and sell groups on Facebook. You can use the money you receive to help with buying gifts and the space you make by decluttering will help when it comes to putting new things away after Christmas.” Tips like this will not only help ease the financial stress of the holiday season, but it will also help you make room for all of the new gifts you will be receiving this Christmas, so it’s a win-win!
If you still find yourself struggling to finance all of your Christmas gifts and feel that you will still need to borrow money Holly says, “Personally, I’d try to get a credit card for purchases that are 0% interest for as long as possible to give yourself time to repay the borrowing. I’d opt for this over a loan as once the money is in your account it is too easy to spend it all – once you’ve finished shopping though you can shred your card and avoid borrowing more than you need.” I think the moral of the story here is, you don’t need to go broke this holiday season to show your friends and loved ones how much you care!
Gifting in U.S.
To Splurge or Not to Splurge?
- Average amount men spend on spouse/partner $136.20
- Average amount women spend on spouse/partner $116.49
- 12.5% of US adults spend more than $300 on spouse/partners
- 25% of US adults spend nothing on their adult children
- 35.3% of US adults spend nothing on their best friend
So, who are we spending the most on when it comes to Christmas gifts? It shouldn’t come as a shock that we are spending the most on our spouses, with the men taking the lead at $136.20 and the women at a close second at $116.49. Maybe the reason men spend more is that women have the more expensive taste? Or maybe it’s just because we are spoiled, but either way, women are definitely getting a good deal! What is a little shocking is that a reported 12.5% of adults report spending more than $300 on their spouse/partner for Christmas! Another shocking revelation is that a lot of us spend nothing on other important people in our lives. 25% of adults report spending nothing on their adult children and 35.3% of adults say that they spend nothing on their best friends. It looks like some of us might be Scrooges after all!
‘Tis the season for giving!
- 15.5% of US adults report receiving 5 gifts each
- 14.1% of US adults report giving 10 gifts each
We all fear being looked at as the Scrooge or The Grinch over the holidays and finding the perfect gifts can be challenging all on its own. What can prove to be even more challenging though, is determining how many gifts are appropriate and whether you should be giving the same number of gifts that you are receiving. In this survey, we asked this question and the results don’t lie! Americans are giving nearly twice as many gifts as they are receiving. 15.5% of us report that we are receiving 5 gifts each while 14.1% of us are reporting giving 10 gifts each, with men at 14% and women at 14.2%, which makes us equal givers and should put us at the top of Santa’s nice list!
What women REALLY want for Christmas
- 47.4% of women want jewelry
- 46% of women want a weekend break/holiday
- 42.2% of women want a gift voucher
- 35.8% of women want a handmade gift
It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty part of this survey and unveil the answer to the age-old question, what is it that women really want for Christmas? If you guessed cleaning products or a new vacuum, you haven’t been paying attention to those subtle, often silent hints that women are known for! The number one ranking gift that women say that they want is jewelry at 47.4%. The second highest gift that they would want is a weekend break at 46% and a gift voucher coming in third at 42.2%. It sounds like the lucky woman in your life has been working extra hard and just needs a break from it all! How far off are men when it comes to knowing what it is that their special lady wants? What if I told you that they are only getting ⅓ of the gifts correct? Yeah, that’s right, you men are only getting 1 out of the top 3 gifts correct! 50.5% of women report getting clothing as a gift, 49.7% report getting jewelry, and 22.3% report getting footwear. Looks like you men need to brush up on your mind-reading skills! Even though the numbers are high on the material end of things, an astonishing 35.8% of women also say that they would like a handmade gift! Not only do you men need to hone in on your physic capabilities, but you also need to tap into that creative side if you really want to please your woman this holiday season!
- 50.5% of women are receiving clothing as a gift
- 49.7% of women are receiving jewelry as a gift
- 22.3% of women are receiving footwear as a gift
What Men REALLY want for Christmas
- 32.3% of men want a gift voucher
- 32% of men want clothing
- 26.2% of men want cash
Now that we’ve discovered what women really want for Christmas, it’s time to give into the other side of the gender pool. Men tend to be viewed at as the less complicated of the two genders when it comes to gifts, but are women any better at getting their men what they really want for Christmas? Let’s first take a look at what men say they have received as gifts in the past. 45.6% say they have received clothing, a whopping 23.5% report getting nothing, and 20.3% say that they have received a gift voucher. Well, it looks like women are just as bad at getting it right when it comes to men because you are only getting one right here. 32.3% of men stated that they would want a gift voucher, 32% said they would be happy with clothing, and 26.2% said that they want cold hard cash! And who says men are hard to please? I don’t know about you, but I am still stuck on the fact that so many men reported they got nothing for Christmas! It’s about time you ladies start getting your man what they really want if you want the same in return!
- 45.6% of men have received clothing as a gift
- 23.5 % of men have received nothing
- 20.3% of men have received a gift voucher as a gift
Tech VS Traditional
- 24.4% of US adults would prefer a physical book versus 8% that would prefer an Ebook
- 12% if US adults would prefer a CD versus 6.3% that would prefer a music download
Everywhere you turn, it seems like technology is taking over. With all of the latest gudgets and gadgets, the world would have you believe that these high-tech gizmos are all the rage, but does this really hold true or is this just what the technology companies want you to believe? According to our survey, 24.4% of US adults said they would prefer a physical book, while only 8% said they would prefer an ebook. These statistics are also pretty similar for CD’s, with 12% of Americans saying they would be happy with a CD as a gift versus the 6.3% that said they would like a music download. It seems like some of today’s technology isn’t as desired as the hype would have you believe!
- 13.3% of US adults would be happy with flowers
- 22.8% of US adults would be happy with diamonds
- 23.6% of US adults would be happy with chocolates
Now I know what you are thinking. Could it be that we are just looking for gifts that we can actually physically hold in our hands versus something that is more virtual by nature? I wondered this myself, so we also looked into a few other statistics that pertain to technology and traditional gifts and I have to say that some of the results were a little shocking! 13.3% of Americans said they would be happy with flowers, 22.8% said they would be happy with diamonds (32.3% being female of course), and a staggering 23.6% said they would like chocolate as a gift. This is where things get interesting! 18.2% of Americans said they would be happy with a mobile phone, 18.9% said they would like a smartwatch, and 22% said they would prefer a tablet. Looking at these numbers, I think it is safe to say that those traditional gifts still hold value, even in today’s vast world of technology.
- 18.2% of US adults would be happy with a mobile phone
- 18.9% of US adults would be happy with a smartwatch
- 22% of US adults would be happy with a tablet
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!
- 51.4% of women have lied about liking a gift
- 35.5% of men have lied about liking a gift
Since we were on the subject of gifts and what we want and actually get for Christmas, it’s only right that we talk about what we do with the gifts that we don’t like. I am sure that we have all been there before. Christmas morning, in front of your friends and loved ones, you open up a gift that is something that you might have worn in the 3rd grade or is something that is the exact opposite of your taste. So what do you do when you receive a gift that you don’t like? This is the exact question that we asked in hopes that we could find an answer that would make us feel a bit better about these type of situations, and what we got was a little unsettling, to say the least. A whopping 46% of US adults stated that they have lied about liking a gift with women leading the pact at an astonishing 51.4%! Maybe it’s because we are more sensitive and don’t like to make others feel bad, but one thing’s for sure, we will make sure to spare your feelings with a friendly smile and a slightly forced, “Thank you!”
Re-gifting and Ebay
- 52% of US adults kept their unwanted gift and store it away
- 38% of women re-gift their unwanted items
- 23% of men re-gift their unwanted items
- 12% of US adults sell their unwanted gifts on eBay
So, what do you do when you open a gift that you just plain don’t like. We’ve already established that a large portion of us lie about liking a gift, but what happens when we reluctantly take our gift home? Do we keep it around for those surprise visits when you know that dreaded question, “How come you never wear that sweater I bought you?”? Or do you attempt to regift in hopes that the other person never finds out? We asked these burning questions in hopes to shed a little light on this subject and the answers may surprise you! We uncovered that over 52% of U.S. adults kept their unwanted gift and store it away. 38% of women and 23% of men are guilty of wrapping their gifts and giving them to someone else without the giver ever knowing about it! What’s even more surprising is that 12% of Americans admitted to actually selling their unwanted gifts on eBay which actually averages out to be more than 1 in 10 people! I am not sure if this just makes us frugal or cheap!
Going the Extra Financial Mile
- 14.2% of US adults sold personal possessions
- 5.8% of US adults have borrowed money from a friend/family member
- 4.6% of US adults have taken out a loan
It’s time for the more serious side of Christmas shopping, the expenses. For a lot of us, we struggle with the financial impact that comes along with buying all of these gifts for friends and loved ones. It can get a bit overwhelming and nobody wants to kick off the New Year with mounds and mounds of debt. According to this survey, 14.2% of Americans have sold their personal possessions to fund Christmas shopping, 5.8% have borrowed money from a friend or family member, and 4.6% have gone as far as taking out a loan for Christmas gifts.
If you are worried about financing Christmas this year, then we might have some good tips for you. We reached out to a financial expert to get some answers on how to relieve some of the financial stress we all feel around this time of the year. One of the most important things to remember is that Christmas is about spending time with your loved ones and building memories. If you find yourself on a tight budget and are looking for different and unique ways to get gifts for those you love without putting a major dent in your wallet, then Holly Andrews from KIS Financial has some really solid advice: “Lots of money could be saved by making gifts instead of buying – homemade edible gifts such as cookies and sweets (check out YouTube for ideas!) are always well received. Other nice things to have which are easy to make without the ingredients being too expensive are soap, beauty products, bath bombs, candles, photo frames. Pair up a bath bomb with a candle, wrap with some cellophane and a ribbon and it’ll look better than some shop brought sets. On the topic of making things – if you have children, give them some festive tasks such as making decorations to save you buying any more.”
So, what if you’re not as crafty as you would like to be or you just don’t have that kind of time and you feel like you have no other options? Holly says, “If you think you will have to resort to a taking out a credit card or a loan to keep up with previous years, talk to family members to see what they think about just buying gifts for the children rather than everyone, or perhaps saving some of the cost by not doing cards this year or everyone bring something with them to help out with the cost of hosting the day.” Keep all of these tips in mind this holiday season and remember that it’s supposed to be about cherishing the time with your friends and family, so try not to stress yourself out about buying gifts for everyone you know.
Get Your Shop On!
Now that we have uncovered the truth behind a lot of those burning questions surrounding Christmas gifts, maybe you can get a bit of a head start on those “most wanted” gifts for your special someone! Or maybe even take some time out to hone in on your creative side to make Christmas extra special this year for those you hold close to your heart. Remember, this holiday season is about fun festivities, family gatherings, and building memories with your friends and loved ones, so don’t forget to soak up all the fun and love that is surrounding you this Christmas!
Data accuracy is everything. That’s why we’ve gone to extremes to make sure that the data behind this story is as correct as possible.
Our Survey Provider and Panel Size
We ran our survey through Censuswide and polled 2,005 over 16s in the UK and 2,055 over 16s in the USA.
The survey ran from 1st to 4th October 2018.
Censuswide complies with the MRS Code of Conduct (2010). That’s a recognized standard in market research. Compliant providers do all sorts of things to ensure data accuracy, including (but in no way limited to):
- Complying with all relevant national and international laws
- Behave ethically
- Ensuring that respondent participation is voluntary
- Based on adequate information about the purpose of the survey and how the responses may be used
- Respecting the privacy of respondents
- Protecting third-party data
- Ensuring that survey questions are written fairly and that projects are reported accurately and transparently
What We Did with the Data
We’ve used researchers to sift through the numbers and find the ones that tell the stories about our Christmas Shopping habits. We used human beings, not computers or algorithms, to go through the data.
Download the Data
The report above does not include all of the data we received, but all data is available for download in the original format in which we received it by clicking here.
A Note on Absolute Numbers
Where we have reported in absolute numbers (e.g. x million Brits eBay unwanted gifts”), here’s how we have come to that conclusion:
- According to the Office of National Statistics, there was a population of 65.6 million in 2016 (most recent data at the time of writing)
- According to this same data, 81.1% of the population is aged over 16
- On that basis, we have assumed a population of 53,201,600 over 16s in the UK
So, if 10% answered “yes,” to any given question, we would assume that amounts to 5,320,160 over 16s who would answer yes to that question.
Further Clarification or Insight
The information from this study as well as the graphs, tables, and more are free to use as long as you link back the information to this article. If you want custom visuals or data, feel free to email us back and we will make it happen! If you have questions or would like an interview, please contact [email protected]
About the Researchers
Tabitha Armbruster, the Head of Media Publishing, in charge of web page design. Assisted in gathering and synthesizing information.
Miranda Hanson, a professional blogger, focusing on going through all of the survey information and gathering interesting and pertinent information to set up the study. As well as compiling the information into a written format.
Stacey McNaught is a Content Marketing Expert with almost a decade of experience in analyzing data to find stories within it.