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Christmas cut backs: Aussies plan to spend less on gifts, food and social events this festive season

MEDIA RELEASE: 21 October 2020: : Toluna’s Understanding the 2020 Consumer: Global Barometer is a regular index that taps into a community panel of 30+ million members providing accurate and timely information on the world’s perceptions regarding the Coronavirus. The latest research surveyed 1,050 respondents in Australia between 1-6 October 2020. 

“There’s no doubt Christmas 2020 is going to look very different than previous years. Shoppers are concerned about their personal finances, and as such, plan to spend less this Christmas. With price the key motivator, more shoppers will be looking for bargains and expect retailers to be offering great deals this year.  

“Australians are savvy consumers and they’ve learned their lessons from the supermarket shortages earlier this year. They know there’s a real chance of stock running low, so they’re looking to get started on their Christmas shopping earlier and plan to do more of this shopping online. Retailers should take note of consumers’ willingness to get started on Christmas shopping now and know that they’re already looking for bargains. Additionally, retailers who offer flexible payment options, such as store credit, Afterpay and laybuy will likely have an advantage. 

“Of course, consumer sentiment changes greatly as the pandemic progresses, so it’s important for businesses to monitor evolving consumer perceptions and habits and adjust their services accordingly,” said Sej Patel, Country Director, Toluna, Australia & New Zealand. 


With Christmas just around the corner, financial insecurity is weighing heavily on Australians. Toluna’s latest Global Barometer shows Australians are concerned about being able to afford Christmas this year, with many planning to do their Christmas shopping on credit. 

Christmas on credit 
Australians are feeling the pinch, with 44% of respondents saying they’re financially worse off this year. Due to this, almost half (46%) stating they plan to use credit to pay for their Christmas shopping.  Typically, 13% of respondents would put their entire Christmas shop on credit, with 44% would normally do a mix of both credit and savings.  

Christmas cut-backs 
With 23% of respondents concerned about whether they can even afford Christmas this year, Aussies are planning to cut back on spending over the festive season: 

Compared with last year: 

  • 32% plan to cut down the amount spent on gifts 
  • 35% planning to spend less on Christmas social events 
  • 27% plan to spend less on food for the Christmas holiday season 
  • 24% looking to spend less during pre-season sales; and 29% wanting to spend less on sales across the season 

For those looking to spend less on gifts, exactly half (50%) cited financial insecurity due to COVID-19 as the reason.  

It’s the thought that counts  
When it comes to gift shopping: 

  • 51% base their gift choices on price or finding a good deal 
  • While only a quarter (26%) choose gifts based on sentimental reasons or finding ‘the perfect’ gift 
  • 13% do their gift shopping based on convenience  

Other changes to Christmas gift purchases this year include: 

  • A quarter (25%) are buying xmas gifts earlier this year 
    • 37% plan to do their Christmas shopping in November; 12% want it completed in October, while 28% will wait till December (and 5% expect to leave it to the last minute) 
  • 30% are doing more of their gift shopping online this year 
  • 43% are being more selective about who they buy gifts for this year

Australians can expect to see gift cards under the tree on Christmas day, with 44% of Australians planning to buy gift cards for at least one of their loved ones. Other popular gift categories include: 

  • 31% – fashion or clothing 
  • 24% – fragrances 
  • 21% – jewellery 
  • 21% – cosmetics & beauty 
  • 18% – gadgets (smartphones, smart watches, etc.)  

Shopper expectations 
Christmas in 2020 will be unlike no other, and shoppers expect to see changes in store this year: 

  • 38% expect to see more deals and discounts; with 23% expecting big discounts on electrical items 
  • 36% expect to see fewer people shopping in store 
  • 29% predict items will be sold out quicker due to more people shopping online 
  • 21% are expecting to see more innovation from retailers, such as virtual shopping spaces and voice activated shopping 

Website: Toluna

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