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Holiday Spending Booms, Financial Security Wanes in 2023

elinorr
Elinor Rozenvasser Updated: November 27, 2023 • 3 min read
people waiting in line to shop for the holidays

The holidays are often one of the best times of the year. It’s a time for families to gather, have meals together, and share laughs. But the holidays can also be expensive. With holiday travel, exchanging gifts, and endless sales, spending can be high.

2023 is no exception, with record spending projected for the season. Yet some Americans have less emergency savings than they had last year. While the holidays aren’t the only time people spend money, it may be important to prioritize basic financial needs this holiday season.

The projected increase is 3% to 4% more holiday spending in 2023, between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion

Record Holiday Spending Expected in 2023

In November 2023, the National Retail Federation (NRF) released its 2023 holiday spending report. The report forecasts record holiday spending, both in stores and online, between November and December of 2023. The projected increase is 3% to 4% more holiday spending in 2023, between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion. These numbers reflect pre-Black Friday sales.

However, NRF president Matthew Shay says it’s not surprising to see holiday sales growth returning to pre-pandemic levels. “Overall household finances remain in good shape and will continue to support the consumer’s ability to spend,” Shay said.

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It’s also worth noting that 2008 was the only year since 2003 when there was a decline in holiday spending. In 2021 and 2022, the increases were 12.7% and 5.4%, respectively. Still, the near-$1 trillion projection for 2023 would be a new record.

Emergency Savings Have Decreased

Despite the optimism and consistent increase in holiday spending, including Black Friday shopping, some Americans’ finances are worsening. For instance, according to AARP’s Financial Trends Survey released in July 2023, the percentage of Americans with emergency savings decreased from 65% in July 2022 to 61% in July 2023.

Declining emergency savings are a troubling sign for Americans. When the unexpected happens, and people don’t have emergency savings, they often turn to costly forms of borrowing, such as credit cards or personal loans. And with interest rates where they're at currently, this could mean even more trouble for Americans.


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The report says the drop in Americans’ emergency savings may have caused a decline in overall financial security. In July 2023, the survey found that 57% of Americans felt financially secure compared to 61% in January 2022.

Decreasing emergency savings can make one’s finances more unpredictable. It can make knowing where you will get your next dollar difficult. Therefore, saving money and shoring up your emergency savings is best.

The AARP report also notes that the share of adults 30 years and over who are concerned about prices rising faster than their income has declined. In July 2022, that figure stood at 78%, but it dropped to 74% by July 2022. While that is still a high percentage, concern about rising prices is subsiding.

High Earners Plan to Shop More

Holiday spending may increase this year, and more people plan to shop during the holidays. For instance, Deloitte’s 2023 holiday retail survey notes that 66% of shoppers plan to shop during Thanksgiving, compared to just 49% in 2022 and 47% in 2021. Inflation has eased since 2021, which may help increase shopping over Thanksgiving.

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But high earners plan to lead the holiday shopping charge. For example, 27% of those earning less than $50,000 plan to participate in Black Friday sales, compared to 36% earning $200,000 or more. The gap is even wider for Cyber Monday, with 23% of those making under $50,000 planning to shop, compared to 42% for those making over $200,000.

High earners plan to shop at higher rates during holiday sales. Still, over 20% of those making less than $50,000 plan to participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The Bottom Line

In the United States, holiday spending is as much a tradition as carving the turkey or hanging stockings by the fire. That will likely stay the same in 2023, with record holiday spending expected. At the same time, some Americans have seen their emergency savings decline, and financial security has waned.

However, the holidays can be a time to prioritize your finances. Lendstart can help you make better financial decisions this holiday season. Its comparison platform and financial tools can give you the best information and insights. While the sales can be tempting, don’t forget to prioritize your finances this holiday season.

 

Elinor Rozenvasser is a content writer and editor with a knack for finance. She holds a Bachelor's in Communications and Business from Reichman University, and has been swimming alongside finance specialists for over a decade. She's not your typical financial writer, though. She's more likely to use witty puns and sarcasm than jargon and technical terms. But don't let that fool you. She's still a whiz when it comes to explaining complex financial concepts in a way that anyone can understand. If there's any writer who can make finance fun and engaging, Elinor is your girl. She's sure to leave you laughing (and learning) long after you've finished reading her work.