Holiday Spending Across the World
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Holiday Spending Across the World

Holiday Spending Across the World

Where people are spending their money this year? This year alone, in 2023, total global holiday spending is expected to reach a whopping $1.3 trillion, with the United States, China, and Japan leading the pack. According to ExpressVPN, the holiday season can lead to overspending, heightened by the festive atmosphere and aggressive marketing. The holiday season is a time of joy, togetherness, and… rampant spending? It's true, our wallets often take a hit during this festive period, read on to learn more.  We hope that this Holiday Spending Across the World post inspires you. 

E shopping Online Business Promotion Shopaholic Concept

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Global Trends

  • Shift to online shopping: The pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping, with e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Alibaba playing a dominant role.
  • Focus on experiences: Consumers are increasingly shifting their focus from material gifts to experiences and personalized items. This is driven by a desire for meaningful connections and lasting memories.
  • Rise of alternative payment methods: Cash is no longer king, with digital wallets, mobile payments, and “buy now, pay later” options gaining traction.
  • E-commerce is booming everywhere: The internet has revolutionized holiday shopping, with online sales expected to account for a significant portion of spending in all regions. Mobile shopping is also on the rise, with consumers increasingly using their smartphones and tablets to make purchases.
  • Brick-and-mortar stores are still relevant: Despite the e-commerce boom, physical stores remain important for many shoppers. The festive atmosphere and the opportunity to touch and try products before buying are still valuable draws.
  • Mobile dominance: Mobile devices are becoming the preferred shopping platform, with over 50% of holiday purchases now made on smartphones or tablets.
Shopaholic friends Two attractive young women holding shopping bags and looking at mobile phone together while standing outdoors

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Regional Variations

  • United States: The undisputed king of holiday spending, Americans are expected to shell out an average of $1,229 per person this year, with total spending reaching a staggering $1.3 trillion. Electronics, toys, and apparel top the shopping lists.
  • China: Chinese consumers are rapidly catching up, with an average holiday spend of $806 per person. Singles' Day (November 11th) is the world's biggest online shopping day. The world's second-largest economy is catching up fast, with holiday spending expected to hit $848 billion in 2023. Online shopping giants like Alibaba and JD.com are major drivers of this growth.
  • Japan: Despite a stagnant economy, Japanese consumers are known for their love of luxury goods. The Japanese tradition of Oseibo gifts for colleagues and superiors leads to high holiday spending, averaging $532 per person with a focus on jewelry, cosmetics, and gourmet food.
  • Europe: Holiday spending in Europe varies greatly by country. Wealthier nations like Germany and the UK see higher averages as they are the biggest spenders, while those in Southern Europe tend to spend less. Gift-giving traditions also differ, with Germans favoring practical items and Italians focusing on food and experiences. Christmas markets are popular shopping destinations.
  • Latin America: Holiday spending in Latin America is on the rise, driven by a growing middle class. Brazilians are the biggest spenders in the region, with an average of $430 per person. Gift cards and phones are popular purchases.
  • Africa and the Middle East: Holiday spending in these regions is lower than in developed nations, but it's growing rapidly. In Kenya, for example, Christmas trees are becoming increasingly popular, driving up demand for decorations and gifts.
Christmas market in Frankfurt

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Interesting Facts

  • Popular Gifts: The most popular holiday gifts globally include electronics, clothing, and toys.
  • Gift Cards: Gift cards are a popular choice in many countries, offering convenience and flexibility.
  • Eco-Friendly: Sustainability is becoming a growing concern, with consumers seeking eco-friendly gifts and packaging.
  • Credit card debt: Holiday spending can lead to debt, with around 10% of Americans using credit cards for their holiday purchases and carrying over balances into the new year. The holiday season can be a time of financial stress, so it's important to budget wisely and avoid overspending.
  • Sustainability: Consumers are becoming more conscious of the environmental impact of their holiday shopping, with a growing demand for sustainable and ethical products.
  • Giving back: Many people donate to charities or volunteer during the holiday season, making it a time for giving back to the community.

Be Careful of Overspending

During the holiday season, we experience a mix of emotions such as happiness, nostalgia, and generosity. These emotions stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that makes us feel good when we spend. Marketers take advantage of this by creating heartwarming advertisements that associate gift-giving with these positive feelings. Trying to keep up with the holiday spending of others, whether it's the neighbors or social media influencers, can lead to excessive spending. When we see others showing off their holiday shopping and experiences, it creates a sense of pressure to match or even surpass them. This “fear of missing out” (FOMO) can push us to buy things that we may not actually need or afford.

Limited-time offers, countdown timers, and “while supplies last” deals can create a sense of urgency that clouds our judgment. We may end up making impulsive purchases just to avoid losing out on a perceived bargain, even if it means overshooting our budget. To avoid this, it's important to determine how much you can realistically afford to spend and create a list of gifts or  that fit within that budget. Prioritize your loved ones and focus on thoughtful, meaningful gifts that don't break the bank. Consider creating lasting memories with your loved ones through shared experiences instead of material gifts. This could be anything from a cozy movie night to a weekend getaway.

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Holiday Spending vs Overspending

Holiday spending is more than just economics. It's a cultural phenomenon that reflects traditions, values, and social pressures. The way people spend their money during the holidays tells us a lot about their priorities and aspirations. The holiday shopping season is a major boost for the global economy, creating jobs and generating revenue for businesses but it can also lead to debt, environmental concerns, and ethical issues related to consumerism.

Remember, the holidays are about celebrating with loved ones, not about outdoing everyone else with your spending. Talk to your family and friends about your budget and expectations for gift-giving. Explain that you'd prefer experiences or smaller gifts, or even suggest a Secret Santa exchange to limit spending. By understanding the psychology behind holiday spending and making conscious choices, you can enjoy the season without breaking the bank. Consider homemade gifts, experiences, or charitable donations. These options can be more personal and meaningful, while also saving you money. We hope that this Holiday Spending Across the World post inspires you.

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