Consumers Are Anxious This Holiday Season, And Are Spending Less, Study Finds

A shocking 82% of U.S. consumers are cutting back on holiday gifts, travel or credit card use due to financial concerns this holiday season, according to the 2022 Aflac Holiday Health Issues study. 

In theory, there might be an opportunity to get B2B emails opened: 70% of workers say checking work email, completing work assignments and taking on additional gig or contract work is likely to reduce quality time this season. 

But don’t expect big sales: Specifically, 64% of consumers plan to cut back on holiday costs in at least one category. These include hosting parties (35%), attending parties (33%), presents (33%), sending cards (26%) and work holiday events (23%). 

This is not a happy season for many people: 55% of all employees feel more anxious during the holiday season.  and 43% feel more depressed during the holidays. Gen Z and women are disproportionately prone to anxiety during this period. 

As for possible reasons, 44% do not believe their income has kept up with increases in everyday expenses. 

In addition, 70% feel they spent more money in 2022 on necessities than in 2021. That includes living expenses, mortgage/rent, out-of-pocket health-care costs, health-care premiums and transportation.

Meanwhile,, 64% would rather “power through” than take a sick day. This includes 66% of on-site employees, 59% of remote staffers and 61% hybrid workers.

Moreover, 31% say they took less time off this year overall, versus 26% who took more time. Among the parents surveyed, 35% are likely to have taken more time versus 21% of non-parents.

The main reasons for taking time off were doctor appointments and wellness visits (34%), mental health days (32%) and planned vacation days (32%).

"The study paints a picture of the sacrifice many households are making this holiday season, because it's difficult to pay for necessities and health care costs," says Diana Steinhoff, senior vice president, Aflac Benefits Solutions. 

Steinhoff adds: "The holiday-focused data brings awareness to how financial stress can affect the physical and mental health of Americans during what should be the most wonderful time of the year."

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