2023 Holiday Spending Survey Shows Impact of Higher Prices on Gift-Giving & Holiday Celebrations

Last updated: September 27, 2023 | By Jed Dreben

Valpak® surveyed thousands of U.S. adults to determine their holiday shopping season habits and behaviors. Survey findings show an overall decrease in spending as consumers struggle to balance rising inflation with holiday wish lists. Use this data to understand how shoppers approach holiday spending and to develop a better holiday marketing strategy.

Americans’ Holiday Shopping Plans

71% of respondents purchase at least some holiday gifts before November, while 29% shop for the holiday season year-round. When it comes to in-store or online shopping, there was no clear preference. Averaging responses, holiday shoppers will purchase 50% of holiday gifts in-store and 50% online.

when consumers plan to shop for the holidays

More than half of Americans surveyed (52%) plan to save money by shopping on major spending holidays. The most popular holiday shopping day for consumer spending is Black Friday, followed closely by Cyber Monday.

major spending holidays

* Note: Respondents could choose multiple holiday shopping days

Holiday Shopping Behaviors

84% of respondents purchase gifts from stores they normally don’t shop at during the holiday season (at least sometimes).

“I compare deals, I use any coupons, I look for the best prices & deals possible, if I have a coupon code for something, I’ll use it before buying something without a discount. I don’t normally buy any product unless it’s on sale or I can get some type of discount. I would like to support small businesses, but I can’t afford to buy things without some way of saving money. I just will not purchase something if it’s not affordable for me.”

This was a common theme, with 64% making gift-buying decisions based on finding the lowest price.

holiday gift-buying decisions

Most Popular Holiday Sales / Offers

The survey finds U.S. consumers want (even expect) free or discounted shipping offers when holiday shopping – and no, not just from Amazon and Walmart.

most popular holiday discounts and offers

When asked how they prefer to receive holiday sales coupons, nearly half of Americans surveyed (44%) chose by mail, followed by 38% via email.

Holiday Budgets – Americans Spending Less

“Finding ways to stretch those dollars is surely a challenge in today’s times. Coupons of any source are surely welcomed. Also, some places advertise getting printed coupons, but many won’t take printed coupons. This will help people to stay within their budget and also help a company to get the products by sending coupons.”

Even though the pandemic is thankfully behind us, inflation and other economic disruptions are driving consumer spending down. 29% of respondents plan to spend more than $500 on holiday gifts this year, vs. 39% last year (10% decrease).

holiday spending budgets

One positive sign for retailers and sellers is that even with economic uncertainty and higher prices, the focus on protecting personal finances has moved a few ticks up from last year, as 8% plan to spend more on holiday gifts this year vs. 6% last year (the strength of holiday cheer).

Most Popular Gifts This Holiday Season

For another year, gift cards continue to dominate our most popular holiday gifts list – no shipping delays or supply chain issues to worry about with them!

most popular holiday gifts

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Holiday Dining Trends

With the stress and effort of holiday shopping (not to mention holiday travel), home-cooked meals become less of a priority. 34% of our respondents plan to eat out at least 3 times during this holiday season with 13% estimating it’ll probably be closer to 5 or more.

People are excited about non-traditional holiday dining, and where they plan to eat out and would like to receive money-saving dining coupons is almost evenly split across the available restaurant genre options. Not surprisingly, from the top with yummy Italian to pizza to Mexican, the list of coupons desired for holiday eating enjoyment is open for opportunity:

top 10 holiday restaurants

Other Holiday Coupons Wanted

Of course, it’s not just dining; people want coupons from other businesses they plan to shop at over the holiday season. With the rising prices in the aisles, it’s grocery store coupons, at a whopping 83%, leading the need by a significant margin, and then, no shock here, bakeries (57%) and coffee & tea shops (44%) for those who take a break and relax during the holiday rush.

And we all know how the holidays can get overwhelming, and consumers need a little in-person me time at hair (27%) or nail salons (26%) or escaping even further at massage therapists (24%). Lastly, those precious little furry friends and their needs don’t get put on pause over the holidays, as they would appreciate some pet care & service deals, too.

most popular holiday shopping categoriesholiday ribbon banner

Holiday Cleaning & Decorating

81% of our respondents will or are considering getting into the holiday spirit by decorating their homes for the holidays. While most are do-it-yourselfers, some have or would consider hiring professional help for holiday cleaning and decorating. Outdoor holiday lighting (18%) is the most popular of these services.


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Holiday Events: Fun for the Whole Family

From holiday markets to photos with Santa, there’s so much to do, see and experience during the holiday season. Our respondents enjoy getting out in the Winter Wonderland, with 71% indicating they want to attend one or more popular holiday events.

most popular holiday events

The family fun doesn’t necessarily have to be holiday-themed, either. Our survey findings showed that 41% plan to go to the movies!

Holiday Entertaining and Hosting

60% of survey respondents plan to host a holiday party this year.

When hosting holiday guests, they go BIG. 43% host more than 10 guests, including family.

Who’s on the Holiday Guest List?

number of holiday guests

In total, 50% plan to spend $100 or more on holiday entertaining, with 33% planning holiday budgets of over $250.

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Get More Holiday Sales with Valpak

Knowing the shopping behaviors of your target audience, what motivates them to try a new business and which offers generate the best response is critical to your upcoming holiday advertising success. But there is more work to do to ensure your direct mail and digital marketing campaigns sleigh this holiday season.

From postcards to social media ads, your local Valpak marketing team can help determine which channels are the best fit for your business, the ideal reach and frequency for your ad campaign and more.