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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” proclaims the holiday song with the same name as its iconic opening line. But it can also be the most expensive time of the year for many Americans. Credit One Bank was interested in finding out how our card members expect their 2017 holiday spending to go, so we contacted over 18,000 of them back in September 2017. Our definition of the “holiday season” included November through New Year’s, and the nearly 1,000 survey respondents were asked to consider the following five categories in their responses: gifts, food, decorations, entertainment, and travel. Here’s what they told us.

Family holding wrapped gifts while shopping in the mall during the holiday season

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” proclaims the holiday song with the same name as its iconic opening line. But it can also be the most expensive time of the year for many Americans.

Credit One Bank was interested in finding out how our card members expect their 2017 holiday spending to go, so we contacted over 18,000 of them back in September 2017. Our definition of the “holiday season” included November through New Year’s, and the nearly 1,000 survey respondents were asked to consider the following five categories in their responses: gifts, food, decorations, entertainment, and travel. Here’s what they told us.


Overall Spending Expected to Hold Steady

Just over half of our surveyed card members (54%) expect to spend about the same on the holidays in 2017 as they did in 2016. The average dollar amount respondents expect to spend this year is $1,008.

 

Do you plan to spend more, less, or about the same on the holidays this year compared to last year?


Budgets Matter

Setting a holiday budget is definitely a priority with most of our respondents. As the graph below illustrates, four times as many card members plan to set a budget as those who do not.

 

Will you set a budget for this year's holidays?


Holiday Shopping Kicks Off for Most in the Fall

Not so surprisingly, our surveyed card members expect autumn to be the most popular time of year to begin their holiday shopping, with 31% of respondents planning to start in October and 36% in November. Early and last-minute shoppers tie at 7% each, with the former starting their shopping last December and the latter not planning to begin until this December. March places dead last, with only 0.5% of respondents choosing to shop for the holidays during the month when winter transitions into spring.

 

Gifts Rank #1

Our surveyed card members plan to spend the most money on gifts and least on travel this holiday season. Food, entertainment, and decorations fall between gifts and travel in that order.

 

Family & Friends Come First

As the graph below demonstrates, socializing with friends and family is the favorite part of holiday shopping for nearly 40% of the respondents, suggesting that heading to the mall with a loved one is still a very popular activity during the holidays.

Only 7% derive no pleasure from shopping for holiday gifts, begging the question, do they plan on making the majority of their gift purchases online to avoid crowds and simplify the process? Turns out they don’t. While these seven-percenters do have a higher average percentage of gifts they plan to buy online than the average for all respondents—40% compared to 32%—it still falls over 10 percentage points short of a majority.

 

Which of the following is your favorite part of shopping for holiday gifts?

 

Simplifying Gift-Giving Isn’t a Priority

Holiday gift-giving may sometimes seem overwhelming, but the #1 response (34%) by our survey-takers to the question, “Which steps have you and your family and/or friends taken to simplify gift-giving?” is that no steps have been taken. Only 3% choose to eliminate gift-giving altogether, suggesting that exchanging presents remains an important holiday tradition for Credit One Bank card members.

 

Credit Cards to Play a Big Role in Spending

Over 1/3 of our surveyed card members expect to pay for around half of their 2017 holiday purchases with credit cards. When it comes to the number of cards to be used, “2 - 3" is the choice of over 62% of respondents. More than three cards appears to be too many for most, with “4 - 5” selected by just over 5% and “6 or more” placing dead last with a selection rate of less than 1%.

 

What percentage of this year's holiday expenditures do you plan on paying for exclusively with credit cards?


Predicted Payoff Schedules

The vast majority (82%) of respondents plan to have any and all 2017 holiday expenditures made with credit cards completely paid off within six months. Only a little over 5% expect it will take a year or longer to pay off any outstanding balances from this year’s holidays.

 

How long do you estimate it will take you to pay for all of this year's holiday expenditures made with credit cards?


Fraud & Theft Are Concerns

Thirty-five percent of respondents are “extremely concerned” with credit card fraud and/or theft during the holiday season, while just over 19% are “not at all concerned.”

The #1 answer for protecting against credit card fraud is to carry cards in a shielded wallet or purse, followed closely by using credit cards only where chip technology is utilized, suggesting that our card members are becoming more confident in—and comfortable with—the added security an EMV chip offers.



Expectations vs. Actions

While answers given to a survey taken in September don’t necessarily translate into actions taken in November, December, or beyond, our card members did provide some valuable insights into their expectations and intentions. And, when you think about it, both of these are major components of the holidays: expectations of what they will be and intentions of how we plan to celebrate them. How our holidays—and card member spending—actually turn out remains to be seen.

Check out this informative infographic on card member holiday expectations based on Credit One Bank’s survey.


About the author:

Sean P. Egen

After realizing he couldn’t pay back his outrageous film school student loans with rejection notices from Hollywood studios, Sean focused his screenwriting skills on scripting corporate videos. Videos led to marketing communications, which led to articles and, before he knew it, Sean was making a living as a writer. He continues to do so today by leveraging his expertise in credit, financial planning, wealth-building, and living your best life for Credit One Bank.




This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified tax advisor, attorney or financial advisor. Readers should consult with their own tax advisor, attorney or financial advisor with regard to their personal situations.


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