Consumers Add Themselves To Holiday Gift List: PwC Says Pent-Up Savings Unleashed During Holidays

Call 2021 the year of pampering.

Consumers, in addition to what they will spend on friends and family, plan to spend an average of $442 on themselves this holiday season -- up 48% from 2020, and 28% from 2019, according to data released today.

This consumer behavior isn't entirely new, but the 2021 holiday season provides an interesting opportunity for brands to switch messages in ads and set performance-marketing measures in place that focuses on one for you, and one for me. 

PwC surveyed more than 1,000 consumers to ask where and when they will shop and travel, and what drives their purchasing decisions.

As local economies shut down in 2020 and parts of 2021, some consumer savings continued to rise, especially Millennials and Gen Z. Nearly 40% of all consumers said the pandemic would not affect their ability to spread holiday cheer this year. That number jumped to 60% for consumers 55 years and older.

The U.S. personal saving rate -- the percentage of people’s income remaining each month after taxes and spending -- rose to a record 32.2% in April, up from 12.7% in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

At the same time, consumer spending fell 12.6%, and slightly rebounded as the economy slowed and unemployment rose. 

Some 30% of consumers overall said they will spend more this holiday, compare with last. Consumers said they will spend on average 20% more this year — rising to $1,447 — on gifts, travel and entertainment this year. Even when compared with the 2019 season, spending is up 13%.

Millennials — many of who spent time during the pandemic re-evaluating how they save money — will spend a bit more, about $1,646. About 20% said the pandemic had a positive impact on their holiday budgets, helping them save money. They are more likely to shop smartphones and are in favor of in-store pickup more than other age groups. This demographic also is more interesting in shopping with environmentally and socially responsible brands compared to other age groups.

Social media is their preferred venue to search and find information about a company’s environmental, social and governance practices — 66% of Millennials vs 49% for all consumers — which is why Google’s initiative announced Wednesday will have a major impact on brands.

Of the amount consumers on average will spend online and offline, about $767 will go toward gifts, $461 toward travel, and $218 toward entertainment.

Of the 30% of consumers who will spend more this holiday?

  • 72% are under age 45
  • 62% earn above median — $65,000 — household annual income
  • 41% live in metro areas
  • 70% plan to travel this holiday
  • 45% seek out environmentally responsible brands

 Typically, PwC holiday data reveals that roughly one-third of those surveyed travel during the holidays, most to visit family and friends. That held true even last year, when holiday travelers swapped air travel for road trips using personal vehicles.

This year, 52% of survey respondents said they will travel. About 72% will travel by car, and 40% will travel by air. Some 57% of those are in a household with an income above $150,000.

Of those surveyed, 31% of consumers said they would travel within their home state, with 26% out of state, and 10% outside of the U.S.



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