<strong>Kiwis are dreaming of a more affordable Christmas</strong>

Kiwis are dreaming of a more affordable Christmas

The majority of Kiwis (66%) say the rising cost of living is impacting their Christmas plans and dampening their excitement surrounding the festive season, according to new research by Toluna, a leading consumer intelligence platform. 

The research, which surveyed 523 New Zealanders, showed that 38% of respondents are stressed about having enough money to buy gifts this year, but the expectations around gift-giving make them feel obliged to spend, despite financial pressure.  

Festive financial stress 

Two-thirds (66%) of Kiwis said the rising cost of living is impacting their Christmas plans this year, with the vast majority (85%) saying it’s affecting how much they’re going to be able to spend on gifts. Just under half (47%) say financial worries are impacting their overall mood and excitement with regards to Christmas. Younger people are particularly affected, with 75% of those between 18-34 and 35-54 stating the cost of living is impacting their Christmas plans, compared with just 50% of those over 55.

Given the rising cost of living, the majority (68%) of Kiwis feel there’s too much focus on gift-giving at Christmas time. Some (17%) said they would like to be able to spend less, but their children, friends, or family have come to expect a certain number of gifts. 

Over half (62%) stated they would prefer a simpler Christmas; this was particularly true amongst the older generations, with 80% of over-55s wishing for a simpler Christmas (compared with just 41% of 18-34 year-olds). Nearly half (43%) said the financial stress takes away the joy of Christmas, and 40% said they wish they didn’t feel so pressured to buy so many things. The pressure of gift-giving even creeps into the workplace, with 14% stating they wish they didn’t have to participate in their workplace Secret Santa, but feel obliged to do so. 

To help cover the additional cost of Christmas, over one in ten (12%) respondents said they’ll be picking up extra work shifts over the festive period. This was particularly true for those 18-34 (20%) and 35-54 (14%), compared with only 4% of those over 55. 

‘Tis the season to be frugal

More than one in three (38%) respondents are feeling stressed about having enough money to buy gifts. One in five (20%) Kiwis have had to put off buying big ticket items for their children or grandchildren this Christmas due to financial pressure. 

As a way to help reduce costs, 51% of Kiwis have bought, or will buy, more discounted sale items, with 39% buying fewer items overall. Almost one in three (31%) will not be buying for extended family this year, with 9% implementing a Secret Santa to reduce costs. Some couples (21%) have agreed not to buy each other anything this year as a way of reducing costs. 

One in three getting gifts they don’t need

Despite gift-givers feeling pressured to buy gifts, one in three (33%) New Zealanders stated they often, or always, receive gifts they don’t want or need. Almost half (49%) will keep gifts to re-gift to someone else, with 37% guilty of putting them in the cupboard and forgetting about them. Some (17%) will try to sell unwanted gifts through sites like Gumtree, eBay, or Marketplace, while others (6%) will try to take them back to the store for a refund. 

Rather than receiving unwanted gifts, Kiwis would rather get store credit (56%) so they could buy something they really wanted. Cash (55%), experience vouchers (38%), or donations to a charity in their name (18%) were other popular alternatives to receiving unwanted gifts. However, around a third (34%) would simply prefer not to receive gifts from, or buy for, certain people. 

 A greener Christmas

As environmental issues continue to be a top priority for New Zealanders, the vast majority (88%) said it’s important that they reduce waste this Christmas. Some of the actions Kiwis will be taking to reduce their environmental impact this year include avoiding buying overly packaged gifts (54%) and avoiding plastic gifts (46%) where possible; reusing their existing tree and decorations (44%); not sending Christmas cards (43%); and asking people what gifts they want in advance to avoid purchasing unwanted gifts (37%). Respondents also said they will not be doing Christmas crackers (36%), will be buying recyclable wrapping paper (27%), and only buying rechargeable batteries (13%). 

A quieter festive season

The cost of living is also going to impact how often Kiwis will be able to go out or eat out over the summer (59%); impacting summer travel plans (60%); and the number of Christmas events they can attend (31%). For some, rising costs are even impacting their ability to take time off work over summer (25%), particularly those between 18-34 years of age (34%). 

On Christmas day itself, 53% plan to celebrate with a quiet, small gathering with immediate family only, with 18% planning to attend a big family gathering. Some (8%) will be celebrating their Christmas with housemates/flatmates, with 3% using the day to attend a house party. Those over 55 are more likely to not be celebrating Christmas this year (15%), compared with 8% of those 35-54, and 4% of those 18-34.

Despite the threat of another COVID-19 wave, 62% of respondents were unconcerned or indifferent about COVID-19 impacting their Christmas plans this year. 

Sej Patel, Country Director, Toluna, Australia & New Zealand said, “The cost of living has been top of mind for Kiwis for a large part of 2022, so it’s not surprising that they are also feeling the pinch this Christmas. Our research shows that, despite being under financial strain, the social pressures and expectations around gift-giving are making this a particularly difficult time of year, with some saying it’s dampening their Christmas spirit.

“Discounts and less expensive brands have become much more appealing to consumers, and retailers must be prepared to see brand loyalty put to the test as consumers turn to brand switching and shopping the sales to control escalating expenses. To build and maintain customer loyalty, retailers should be heavily focused on messaging around value to consumers over the Christmas shopping period.”

Scroll to Top