High inflation has Americans cutting back on holiday spending, poll finds

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Inflation may be the Grinch who stole Christmas this year as most Americans say higher prices have led to cutbacks in holiday spending.

A Monmouth University Poll released Thursday found that 55% of respondents say they are cutting back on their holiday shopping list this year because of high prices. That’s an increase from 46% who said the same last year and 40% in 2021. 

The pollster said the trend was reported across all demographic groups, but Americans making less than $50,000 annually were the largest demographic to report spending cuts. Two-thirds of lower income respondents, 67%, said they have cut back holiday spending this year compared to just under half, 48%, who said the same in 2022.

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“The rate of inflation may be slowing but the damage has been done after a long stretch of rising prices,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

“There could be a number of reasons why more are cutting back this season,” he continued. “Perhaps those who kept to their usual spending habits as we came out of the pandemic are seeing it catch up with them now. Or maybe their budgets are the same, but they are exchanging fewer gifts or buying for fewer people. Whatever the reason, there is greater pessimism on the holiday gift-giving front.” 

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businesswoman wearing Santa hat, sleeping at her desk

The Monmouth poll follows Empower’s 2023 holiday spending report, which surveyed over 1,000 Americans and found 74% say inflation is influencing their holiday spending this year, and 31% are working extra hours or taking on a side gig to afford their purchases.

The financial services company found more than three in 10 surveyed are cutting back on holiday traditions this year to save money, and over half are skipping travel this season, with 46% opting to do so to trim costs.

Even though Americans are cutting back on their spending on gifts, that does not mean they’re spreading less holiday cheer. Vast majorities of survey respondents said they were playing Christmas music (76%), decorating their homes (75%), and making Christmas candy, cookies or desserts (69%) to celebrate the season.

More than 4 in 10 Americans also said they will volunteer for charitable activities this holiday season, the poll found. Monmouth noted these current results are between five and eight points higher than they were in a national poll conducted for U.S. News & World Report magazine nearly three decades ago. 

One thing most Americans won’t be doing: caroling. Just 9% of respondents said they plan to go caroling this year, a new record low.

Fox Business’ Breck Dumas contributed to this report.

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