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Christmas spending report 2021

Kiwis will be forking out $1.8 billion on Christmas spending this year.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it doesn’t come cheap. From parties to expensive gifts, holiday merry-making leaves many of us with empty wallets.

Finder conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,507 respondents to find out what Kiwis will be buying this Christmas and how they plan to fund their festivities.

How much will Kiwis spend this Christmas?

Kiwis are gearing up to spend $1.8 billion on Christmas festivities this year – an average of $561 per person.

Those from Auckland will spend the most of any region ($620), followed by Southland ($583). Kiwis in the Marlborough-Canterbury region will have the lowest overall spend ($476).

The research found 16% of Kiwis don’t plan to spend any money this holiday season.

What will we be spending on?

Presents will make up the bulk of spending, with the average person expected to fork out $253 each on gifts for their loved ones.

Travel costs come in second place at $108 per person, indicating Kiwis are itching to start travelling again. Other areas where Kiwis will spend their money include Christmas hampers ($75), decorations ($63) and charity ($62).

Millennials will be the biggest spenders this Christmas, forking out $631 on average, while baby boomers ($438) will spend the least. When it comes to presents, however, generation X will be the most generous givers, spending $276 each.

Men ($567) will spend slightly more than women overall ($550), but women will be shelling out more on presents ($272).

The cost of Christmas dinner

Food is one of the best parts of the festive season. But how much does it cost to cook a Christmas meal in New Zealand? Using data from Stats NZ’s October Food Price Index 2021, Finder calculated the cost of ingredients for a no-frills Christmas meal for 4 people, including salad, meat, vegetables, dessert and non-alcoholic drinks.

The analysis found that it would cost approximately $44.82 (excluding alcohol) to prepare a basic festive meal. This is an increase of 10% when compared to the cost of the same meal in 2020 and an increase of 20% when compared to 2011.

How are Kiwis funding the cost of Christmas?

More than 1 in 3 Kiwis (37%) will borrow money to pay for Christmas costs this year, an increase of 10 percentage points from 27% in 2020.

One in 5 Kiwis (21%) will be swiping their credit card to get through the festive months. A further 14% will use buy now pay later services like Afterpay to fund their spending this silly season – a doubling from 7% last Christmas.

Close to half of Kiwis (44%) will rely on their savings, down from 73% last year. Compared to Australians (55%), Kiwis are less likely to use their savings and more likely to borrow money this holiday season.

Men are more likely to rely on their credit cards this Christmas (26%), while women are more likely to fall back on buy now pay later services (19%).

Close to half of generation Z (43%) are planning to borrow money for Christmas expenses, compared to 31% of baby boomers.

How are Kiwis reducing their spending this year?

Kiwis are getting thrifty this year, according to the research. Four in 5 Kiwis (80%) are planning to cut down their Christmas spending this year. The research shows Kiwis are more likely to be slashing their holiday spending than Australians (67%).

Two in 5 Kiwis (40%) have already started saving for the silly season, and 39% are shopping for food and presents early to save themselves a last-minute spending frenzy. One in 3 (31%) is planning on shopping during big sale days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday to score a bargain.

Other things Kiwis are doing to save money this Christmas include implementing a gift limit with loved ones (21%), making gifts (18%) and even starting a side hustle to fund silly-season spending (12%).

How many people will shop online this year?

Finder’s research found nearly 3 in 4 Kiwis (72%) plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping online this year. This includes 15% who will shop online only and 57% who will shop both online and in-store. Meanwhile, 1 in 5 (21%) is committed to bricks and mortar shopping.

Millennials (86%) are the most likely to shop online this Christmas, compared to 50% of baby boomers.

One in 4 men (25%) plans to shop in-store only, compared to 17% of women.

Spending tips for the silly season

Stick to a budget. Work out what you can afford to spend and stick to it. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays while remaining within your means. Do a Kris Kringle and only buy for one person, regift items you never use (provided they’re in good condition) or get creative and make your gifts by hand. Writing a list of everyone you need to buy for in the lead up to Christmas can also help you keep track of your purchases.

Be sensible with credit. To avoid a December budget blowout, only swipe your credit card if you know you can repay the money. The last thing you want is to start out the new year on the wrong foot. If you’re already in a pickle with your credit card, consider a balance transfer. This type of credit card lets you transfer your existing debt with an interest-free period of up to 6 months, allowing you time to pay off your card.

Open a Christmas savings account at the start of the year and gradually add to it throughout the following months. Each time you get paid, set aside a small amount for Christmas. By the time December rolls around, you could have a spare $500 to spend on presents, food and festivities.

Shop the sales. There are a handful of mega sales to watch in the lead up to Christmas such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday. Here, you can expect to find huge discounts across a wide range of clothes, toys, electronics, homewares, travel deals and more. Organised shoppers can have themselves a half-price Christmas simply by shopping the sales.

Don’t say yes to everything. From end of year celebrations to office Christmas parties, silly-season merrymaking can come with a hefty price tag. It’s okay to turn down the odd event here and there. This can end up saving you a small fortune over the holiday period.

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