What impact will the economy have on the Holiday Season?

Recently Invoke conducted an Invoke Live Study with 300 participants to understand how Americans celebrate their holidays, how they think about and approach gift shopping, and more importantly, what impact the economy will have on their holiday plans. What we found is that the economy is likely to have a significant impact on certain aspects of holiday celebrations, but it is not likely to put the breaks on all holiday spending. 75% of participants stated that the poor economy is going to impact their holiday spending at least somewhat, with 35% saying it is going to have a major impact. Let’s take a closer look at where its likely to have the greatest impact and among whom.

Who is the Economy Impacting the Most?

We found that the economy is impacting holiday plans most among women 50-64 years old and those earning less than $50,000 a year.  A majority (54%) of women age 50-64 years old stated that they would definitely or probably spend less this holiday season.  And nearly half (47%) of participants with household incomes from $25,000 to $49,000 indicated that they will definitely spend less on gifts this holiday season.

Where are they likely to cut back?

Participants in our study indicated three areas where they are likely to try to save money this season.

 –       Adjusted travels plans

“It’s hard to travel because of the expenses associated with gas and hotels.”

 “If I had money, I would go to N.C. to see my great nieces in their first ballet, the Nutcracker! But, I don’t so I can’t fly, and will not be going!”

 “We had planned to travel for Christmas to be with family but that won’t be possible now.”


–       Shopping more on deals

“My hours have been cut back so I am more cost conscious and use coupons and shop for deals.”

 “It caused finances to be strained so I will be spending less or looking for more sales before I purchase.”

 “Definitely spending less and looking for sales and clipping coupons.”


 –       Buying gifts only for the children

 “Less to spend.  Only buying for the kids.”

 “We’re only buying for the kids in our families this year.”

 “This year we’re going to put all the focus on the children & do simple or gag gifts for the adults.”


In fact, giving gifts to children seems to be sacrosanct. People in poor economic conditions seemed to be just as likely to buy gifts for their children as those in good economic conditions.  However, siblings, extended family members and in-laws beware!

Q:  Who do you plan on giving gifts to this holiday season? (Select all that apply)

And not surprisingly, those for whom the economy is a major factor are significantly more likely to buy their gifts with cash versus credit cards and also more likely to spend that cash at discount stores.

So what to conclude from this data?  We are likely to see some reduction in spending this holiday season, particularly among those earning $50,000 or less.  Kids need not worry…Santa will still come for them.  But others in the family will have to get their holiday jollies from the food and drink!  In our next post, we’ll share some findings around what consumers are going to be buying and where they plan on shopping and why.

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