Australians are spontaneous and wholehearted in our embrace of Christmas – or perhaps we’re just a nation of disorganised spendthrifts.
However you see it, we’re increasingly generous in our gift giving, tipped to spend a collective $11 billion on Christmas presents this year. The average person will spend $593 this festive season, a quarter more than 2012, according to the Commonwealth Bank’s Consumer Spending Survey.
The online survey of about 1000 Australians also found most people planned to do their Christmas shopping from Friday, December 15, to Sunday, December 17.
Christmas can be a hugely costly period for many, with Bureau of Statistics’ retail trade figures suggesting people spent 23 per cent more in December than November last year overall. They also spent 60 per cent more in department stores and stores selling clothing, footwear and other personal accessories.
With this cost may come emotional strain, with a separate survey by Groupon finding 49 per cent of respondents were worried about how much they would spend on Christmas expenses such as gifts and catering.
Commonwealth Bank executive general manager Clive van Horen said the survey suggested much of the anticipated spending would be more than people could afford.
“While slightly more of us have set a budget this Christmas, Aussies will overspend by a huge $625 million,” van Horen says. “Keeping track of spending is clearly not on the Christmas list for nearly 40 per cent of shoppers.”
While Baby Boomers and members of Generation X plan to reduce their spending from last year, they still remain the biggest spenders despite members of Generation Y being set to spend an average of $557 -14 per cent more than last year.
One Millennial spending close to average is Grace Berg, 21, who is limiting her expenses this year after spending about $1500 on gifts last Christmas.
“While that was a great deal of money, it wasn’t a great financial strain on me at the time,” Berg says. “It’s not because I didn’t keep track of it, I just got excited and was feeling generous.”
The Groupon research suggested nearly one in five people spend more than $1000 on Christmas presents.
Berg, a university student from Sydney, has recently moved out of her parents’ home with her boyfriend. Since she has more financial constraints this year, she has decided to cap her Christmas spending at $500.
She is allocating funds to different people in her life while thinking about what she wants to get them, then researching these items and prices for them at different retailers.
To save further, she and her boyfriend are also splitting the cost of some gifts for family members.
She is also looking for savings on other Christmas items. “I went to a bulk floristry supply shop and bought all of my ribbons and wrapping paper because it was cheaper,” Berg says. Buyer regret
With only a short time until Christmas, a risk for some consumers is that they may panic and make impulse purchases.
More than two out of three people have experienced regret or worry about the amount of money spent after a shopping trip and 88 per cent have made an impulse purchase, a survey of 1000 Australians commissioned by AMP suggests.
“Christmas is about gift giving and celebration and it’s very easy to get caught up in the moment,” says Michael Christofides, director of retail solutions at AMP Bank.
“More than half of us feel excited when we make an impulse purchase. But the initial euphoria seems short-lived for most as 70 per cent of people regret their purchases.
“With over half of Australians not knowing how much they spent on Christmas gifts last year, our impulse habits are setting us on course for more overspending again this silly season.”
Dianne Dejanovic, a senior financial counsellor at the Consumer Action Law Centre in Melbourne, says some people feel such pressure to spend on presents that they prioritise this above other essential expenses.
“We see a big increase in enquiries in February when the bills from Christmas spending come in and we expect that there may be a bigger increase in 2018 with the increases in energy costs,” Dejanovic says.
“People don’t realise that their family and friends might actually have financial problems and it can be a huge benefit for them if the family organises a Kris Kringle and so relieves the pressure to spend.”
However, with some planning it may be possible to avoid this regret, and the Commonwealth Bank’s research suggests some people may achieve this by using online shopping.
About 13.3 million people plan to shop online these holidays – an increase of 1 million from last year. Among Generation Y, 44 per cent shop in physical stores then find deals online, while 62 per cent of Generation Z research purchases online before buying in a physical store.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.