PayPal releases 2021 Holiday Research - reveals Aussies are staying put and spending big at home this Christmas
15 Dec 2021

New research from PayPal Australia reveals Aussies have deep pockets for seasonal spending this year but will be splashing less on Christmas gifts for loved ones and more on festive celebrations

PayPal's 2021 Holiday Research
PayPal's 2021 Holiday Research.

PayPal Australia released its 2021 Holiday Research, which reveals how Aussies are planning to stay at home and connect with family this Christmas. Despite looking to spend more than previous years on the Christmas season including food, domestic travel and entertainment, Australians are planning to spend less on gifts as they look to focus on quality gifts over quantity.

PayPal Australia Consumer Shopping Expert Jess Rix said, “Last Christmas, we couldn’t have big family get-togethers or travel interstate to see our relatives – all we could do was send gifts to each other. So, it makes sense that this year Australians are planning to pull back a little on gifts while spending up on food, domestic travel, hosting Christmas parties and splurging on tickets and entertainment.”

Despite open borders, Aussies will staycation with family after a tough year

While international borders opened in November, the anticipated rush of Aussie holidaymakers remains to be seen, with just 5% of Australians planning an overseas trip this holiday season. Nearly half of Aussies (45%) are spending the Christmas break at home, with 37% travelling within their state and 18% planning an interstate trip.

In a sign of post-lockdown confidence, 87% of Aussies intend to spend the same, or more, compared to 2020 across food, gifts, travel and entertainment this holiday period. Almost a third (30%) plan to spend more, just over half (57%) plan to spend the same and only 13% plan to spend less. It comes as no surprise following another tough year, a majority of Aussies (82%) are most looking forward to connecting and spending time with their friends and families this Christmas.

However, shopping is stsing.jpgill high on the agenda, with 28% of Aussies most looking forward to shopping the sales over the holiday season, compared to watching major sporting events (18%), attending work parties (16%) or even participating in religious gatherings (9%). Looking forward to sales shopping is particularly common with Gen Z (48%), rating 20% higher than the national average.

More spending, but less on gifts

Despite looking to spend more than last year altogether on the Holiday season, Aussies plan to spend $68 less on gifts for family, friends and colleagues with an estimated average spend of $490 on Christmas presents, 12% less than last year ($558). The decline in spend on gifts this year compared to 2020 is not surprising, as gifting was among the few ways we could celebrate while physically restricted last Christmas.

This year, the average Aussie plans to buy gifts for nine people – with a split made up of seven family members and two friends or colleagues. Aussies with younger families (Millennials and Gen X) buy presents for the most people, buying for 10 family members and friends. The youngest shoppers (Gen Z) and Baby Boomers are buying for eight people. 

The average Aussie ‘nice list’ is split 75% for family and 25% for friends, unless you’re under 25, in which case 35% of the people you buy for are friends. With the average Aussie spending $490 on Christmas gifts, the average spend per recipient is $53.

Despite a slightly lower dollars to stockings ratio, quality over quantity continues to be the name of the game, with 45% of Aussies agreeing this is their preferred approach to holiday gifting – up 7% on last year. This was particularly true for Gen X (51%) but a lower priority for Gen Z (34%).

The gift of giving to oneself isn’t lost this year, with over a third (34%) of Aussies looking to treat themselves in the Christmas sales, if an item they want is on sale at a good price.

Online Christmas shopping more popular post-pandemic

Aussies plan to do almost half (44%) of their Christmas gift shopping online as it’s faster and covid safe, up 18% from before the pandemic (26%). Aussies over 40 years of age will be doing the majority (66%) of their Christmas gift purchasing at bricks and mortar stores this season, while Aussies under 40 will buy the majority of their Christmas gifts (54%) online.

More than two-in-five (43%) of Australians are keen to avoid crowds and queues in shops and shopping centres when hitting the Christmas sales this year (rising to 47% for Gen Z), with 29% planning to get their online shopping done early so gifts will be delivered with plenty of time to spare.

Regardless of where they’re shopping, over half (56%) are seeking good value sales and discounts, and over a third (34%) are keen to support local businesses when shopping Christmas sales.

What Aussies really want for Christmas, and what may be returned or ‘regifted’

Though Aussies might be too polite to share our wish lists directly, the research reveals the top five desired gifts this year are: gift cards or vouchers (45%), experiences such as wine tasting (31%), clothing (30%), cold hard cash (29%) and food or alcohol hampers (28%).

For anyone on the naughty list, the five gifts least likely to appear in letters to Santa are: ties and scarves (62%), keychains (56%), decorations or ornaments (52%), Christmas themed clothing (53%) and coffee mugs (51%).

For those seeking to spoil an under 25-year-old (Gen Z), clothing is the most wanted gift category (60%) at 30% above the national average, but to forgo a festive fashion faux pas, avoid Christmas themed clothing, as more than half of Gen Z rank this as an unwanted gift. Millennials are most keen to receive gift vouchers (53%) at 8% above the national average, and you might upset the Baby Boomer in your life with a tie or scarf purchase, with 71% (9% above national average) saying they would rather not receive this for Christmas. 

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