New research shows that a third are willing to spend just as much as they did last holiday season – but only on the people that matter most.

Inflation has been hitting records all year, making it all but impossible for anyone to beat rising costs. That doesn’t mean many won’t try.

Debt.com’s latest poll of 799 Americans found that over 6 in 10 (64 percent) are shopping for the holidays earlier than last year. Some started as early as July, but a third started this month.

About 45 percent got a head start because of “concerns about supply” and “price markups.” Another 14 percent point to inflation.

“That makes perfect sense,” says Debt.com president Don Silvestri. “Americans have long been willing to go into debt to have a happy holiday. What they fear most is not getting their hands on that perfect gift, either online or in the store. For most of the year, inflation is the biggest worry. Leading up to the holidays, fear of rising prices will be replaced by fear of sinking availability.”

Despite their best efforts, the majority of Americans (55 percent) plan on spending more this year because of inflation. That jump isn’t too significant though. According to last year’s research, 15.6 percent of shoppers planned on spending between $200 and $300 on holiday shopping. This year, it’s just over 18.5 percent.

Those who are keener to stay on budget say, “I’ll spend the same amount but on fewer gifts.”

“That also makes sense,” Silvestri says. “Tough economic times sharpen our minds as well as our spending. During the holidays, we ask ourselves if we really need to buy gifts for everyone – distant relatives and occasional coworkers, for example. Instead, we’ll show how much we appreciate a more selective group.”

Here are the key takeaways…

 

6 in 10 Americans are shopping earlier this year

 

Nearly a quarter are trying to avoid price markups

 

Most Americans plan on spending more than last year

 

Half are taking on debt to cover their spending

 

 

Are you doing your holiday shopping earlier this year? Percentage of respondents
Yes 64.08%
No 35.92%
If yes, how early did you begin your holiday shopping? Percentage of respondents
July 5.51%
August 9.26%
September 16.65%
October 34.04%
N/A 34.54%
Why did you start shopping earlier? Percentage of respondents
Inflation 14.68%
Concerns about supply 22.28%
To avoid price markups 22.28%
N/A 41.30%
Do you expect to spend more on holiday shopping this year because of inflation? Percentage of respondents
Yes 54.44%
No 45.56%
How much do you think you’ll spend this year? Percentage of respondents
$50 to $100 11.39%
$100 to $200 16.90%
$200 to $300 18.65%
$300 to $400 11.76%
$400 to $500 12.02%
$500 to $700 8.39%
$700 to $900 4.38%
$900 to $1,000 6.13%
More than $1,000 10.39%
How will inflation affect your shopping? Percentage of respondents
I’ll spend more to buy quality gifts like last year 18.02%
I’ll spend the same amount but on fewer gifts 33.79%
I’ll buy fewer gifts to stay under budget 31.66%
Inflation won’t affect my spending this holiday season 16.52%
Do you need to use credit cards to cover your holiday shopping? Percentage of respondents
Yes 49.69%
No 50.31%
How much credit card debt do you think you’ll take on while shopping? Percentage of respondents
$50 to $100 45.43%
$101 to $200 15.52%
$201 to $300 10.64%
$301 to $400 7.63%
$401 to $500 7.01%
$501 to $700 4.13%
$701 to $900 2.25%
$901 to $1,000 2.63%
More than $1,000 4.76%
Do you plan to make more purchases online or at brick-and-mortar retail stores? Percentage of respondents
Online 72.09%
Brick-and-mortar retail stores 27.91%
How much did you plan on spending during the holiday season last year? Percentage of respondents
$50 to $100 12.89%
$101 to $200 15.64%
$201 to $300 15.64%
$301 to $400 12.52%
$401 to $500 11.39%
$501 to $700 10.76%
$701 to $900 6.26%
$901 to $1,000 5.01%
More than $1,000 9.89%
About how much did you actually spend during the holiday season last year? Percentage of respondents
$50 to $100 11.64%
$101 to $200 13.77%
$201 to $300 16.90%
$301 to $400 10.89%
$401 to $500 11.89%
$501 to $700 10.76%
$701 to $900 6.63%
$901 to $1,000 5.76%
More than $1,000 11.76%
Have you started shopping for the holiday season? Yes No
Percentage of respondents 52.02% 47.98%
Will you spend more or less this holiday shopping season than last year? Percentage of respondents
More 18.28%
The same 53.13%
Less 28.59%
Did you shop early because news reports of fewer deals and shipping delays? Percentage of respondents
Yes 36.67%
No 63.33%
Select below when you started shopping for the holidays Percentage of respondents
July 7.44%
August 7.01%
September 15.20%
October 69.5%
Just now .85%
Do you plan to make more purchases online or at brick-and-mortar retail stores? Percentage of respondents
Online 67.98%
At the store 32.02%
Approximately how much did you spend last year’s holiday season? Percentage of respondents
Less than $500 51.72%
$500-$1,000 30%
$1,000-$1,500 10.81%
More than $1,500 7.47%
How much will you spend this holiday season? Percentage of respondents
Less than $500 50.71%
$500-$1,000 31.52%
$1,000-$1,500 11.52%
More than $1,500 6.26%
Do you plan to spend more or less this holiday season compared to last due to the pandemic? More The same Less
Percentage of respondents 4.66% 32.95% 62.39%
Why will you spend less? Percentage of respondents
I lost my job due to the pandemic 11.12%
I feel less pressure to buy gifts because of virtual celebrations 22.61%
I lost part of my household income 29.54%
I don’t expect loved ones to spend much on me due to the pandemic 36.74%
Approximately how much money did you spend last year’s holiday season? Percentage of respondents
Less than $250 27.70%
$250 to $500 30.49%
$500 to $1,000 25.66%
$1,000 to $1,500 9.67%
More than $1,500 6.48%
How much do you plan to spend this holiday season? Percentage of respondents
Less than $500 73.34%
$500 to $1,000 18.13%
$1,000 to $1,500 6.07%
More than $1,500 2.46%
How do you plan on celebrating fall and winter holidays during the pandemic? Percentage of respondents
In-person 30.78%
Virtually 17.90%
A combination of both 51.32%
How will you do most of your shopping? Percentage of respondents
Online 34.01%
In-store 12.51%
Combination of online and in-store 47.83%
Not holiday shopping 5.64%

Methodology: Debt.com surveyed 799 adults and asked 11 questions about their plans for the holiday season. People responded from all 50 states and Washington, DC, and were aged 18 and above. Responses were collected through SurveyMonkey. The survey was conducted on October 14, 2022.