A recent Monmouth University poll has highlighted the significant impact of inflation and high prices on American holiday shopping habits this year.
The survey, published on Thursday, found that 55 percent of respondents are cutting back on their holiday shopping lists, marking a noticeable increase from 46 percent in 2022 and 40 percent in 2021. This trend reflects the ongoing economic challenges faced by many Americans.
Holiday shopping cutbacks increase, especially among lower-income earners
According to the poll, these cutbacks are observed across all demographic groups, with those earning less than $50,000 annually being particularly affected.
In this income bracket, two-thirds reported reducing their holiday shopping, a stark increase from the 48 percent who reported similar cutbacks in 2022.
Patrick Murray, the director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, commented on these findings, stating, “The rate of inflation may be slowing, but the damage has been done after a long stretch of rising prices.”
Murray highlights factors behind increased holiday shopping cutbacks
Murray attributed the increased cutbacks to various factors, including consumers maintaining their usual buying habits post-pandemic and now feeling the financial strain.
“Whatever the reason, there is greater pessimism on the holiday gift-giving front,” he added, pointing to the broader economic mood affecting holiday spending.
Despite these cutbacks in gift-giving, the survey shows that most Americans still plan to participate in holiday activities.
Contrasting holiday activities and economic perceptions
Approximately 76 percent of respondents plan to play Christmas music, while 65 percent will decorate their homes, and 69 percent intend to make Christmas candy, cookies, and desserts.
Additionally, 43 percent of Americans plan to engage in charitable activities during the holiday season.
This shift in spending habits comes amid mixed perceptions of the U.S. economy.
A recent Bankrate survey indicated that nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe the nation is in a recession despite low unemployment rates, falling inflation throughout the year, and steady economic growth.
Economic metrics and public sentiment on inflation
Since peaking at a rate of 9.1 percent last summer, inflation has eased to 3.2 percent as of October, remaining above the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target.
The central bank’s decision to hold interest rates steady in its last two meetings shows a cooling economy.
Bankrate analyst Sarah Foster noted a discrepancy between expert economic assessments and public sentiment.
Intersection of economic indicators and consumer behavior
“While economists are watching carefully for broad-based declines in growth, households focus on whether they can afford their needs and the occasional wants while still having enough money leftover to put toward key financial goals like saving for emergencies and retirement,” she said.
The Monmouth University poll was conducted from November 30 to December 4 among 803 adults in the United States.
It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points. The poll’s findings underscore the complex interplay between economic indicators and consumer behavior, particularly during a period marked by ongoing financial uncertainty and inflationary pressures.
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