Half of Americans Say ‘Santa Won’t Be as Generous This Year Due to Inflation,’ a Third Foregoing Gifts Entirely

Craig Bannister | November 10, 2023
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Inflation is putting the “Bah! Humbug!” into the holidays this year - especially when it comes to Christmas presents - a new survey of Americans’ spending expectations reveals.

Half (50%) of all Americans say “Santa won’t be as generous this year due to inflation,” according to a national survey conducted by WalletHub. And, one in three (34%) say they’re “foregoing gifts this year due to inflation.”

More than one in four (28%) say they’ll spend less than last year on holiday shopping.

What’s more, a quarter (24%) say they still haven’t paid off all of their holiday debt from last year, and half (47%) don’t expect to pay off this year’s credit card charges on time.

In fact, one in five (19%) plan to apply for a new credit card, so they can charge this year’s holiday expenses.

And, inflation isn’t just reducing the number of gifts given to family and friends, it’s also hurting charitable contributions, according to nearly half (47%) of those surveyed.

WalletHub’s findings are supported by a number of other recent surveys, some of which provide even bleaker predictions for the impact of inflation on this holiday season.

“Forty-two percent of consumers attributed their expectation for increased spending to inflation and a higher cost of holiday items, while 54 percent plan to spend less for the same,” the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reports.

More than half (56%) of 2023 holiday shoppers won’t be able to buy as many gifts as they’d like to this year due to inflation, and a third (33%) say that, when they do, they’ll buy less expensive gifts, a NerdWallet survey finds.

U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of 2% less than last year on holiday-related items, The Conference Board reports. About six in ten cite inflation as a reason, as 59% expect the cost of gifts to rise and 55% think the cost of food will be higher.

Indeed, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show the cost of traditional holiday-food items, such as treats and turkey dinners, is already much higher than it was a year ago:

  • Cookies up 6.6%
  • Sugar and sugar substitutes up 7.7%
  • Candy and chewing gum up 7.5%
  • Poultry, such as turkey up 6.7%
  • Sauces and gravies up 6.7%
  • Bread up 6.1%
  • Crackers, bread, and cracker products up 6.9%


Making matters even worse, Americans’ earnings haven’t kept pace with inflation. Real average weekly earnings have fallen 0.1% over the past year, according to the latest BLS data (Sept. 2022 to Sept. 2023).