More Americans plan to buy gifts for their pets than in-laws, according to new survey on holiday spending

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The rest are getting gift cards, cash or slippers (unless you’re lucky enough to have a Gen Zer in your life, who may be knitting you a sweater). 


Key findings:

Budget cuts: 60 percent of Americans say inflation is impacting their holiday shopping choices this year, with the average shopping budget down roughly 23% (approximately $200) this season.* 

Prioritizing pets: 34% of Americans will be purchasing a gift for their dog vs.19% who will be purchasing gifts for their in-laws. 22% of cats will be receiving gifts. 

Baking, crafting and thrifting: Cash or gift cards (77%) and DIY or secondhand items (45%) were the most popular gift categories. Nearly a quarter of Gen Zers (25%) and Millennials (23%) plan to make gifts this year. 


It’s the most wonderful time – for inflation? This year, many Americans are trimming their holiday spending and shopping lists. But the spirit of giving is still very much alive, especially for our four-legged friends (though there’s a chance that dog sweater is second-hand).

A new survey from Personal Capital* conducted in partnership with Morning Consult shows the average holiday shopping budget is down roughly $200 (23%) from last year. In order to afford their December spending, 47% of respondents said they will be cutting back on eating out and other non-essential purchases, an increase of 9% over 2021. Ultimately 37% of people will be spending $250 or less on their gifts this year, with 16% saying they’ll ring up less than $100.

The survey provides insight into who will be getting gifts this season, what you can expect under the tree (it’s a good year for socks, which makes one wonder if the Snuggie will stage a comeback), and where Americans will be shopping this season.

Hope you like sweaters… 

Gen Zers and Millennials are putting their pandemic hobbies to use, with a quarter (25% and 23% respectively) saying they plan to make gifts this year – more than any other age group. These generations are also the most likely to give gifts of home cooked or baked items (now that bread starters are much easier to find). Overall 45% of gifts will be DIY or second-hand this year. 

Those who aren’t bargain shopping at the local thrift store are likely logging on to ecommerce sites: 34% of Americans said they will be increasing their online shopping over last year, which is likely why free (79%) and fast shipping (77%) was a bigger factor in selecting a retailer than its environmental impact (18%).

Christmas is going to the dogs 

If Americans are purchasing fewer gifts, who makes the cut for the shopping list and who doesn’t? Surprisingly (or not?) Americans are more likely to purchase a gift for their dog than their in-laws this year. While only 19% of respondents said they will be purchasing a gift for their in-laws, 34% of dog owners said Fido will be receiving a present this year. Cat owners, true to their reputation, remain slightly more aloof – only 22% of kitties will be visited by Santa.

Overall, Americans said their shopping lists will include gifts for:

Children: 58%
Partner: 54%
Parents: 46%
Friends: 43%
My dog: 34%
Other relatives (nieces, nephews): 30%
My cat 22%
Inlaws: 19%
Co-workers: 15%
Service professionals (postal/delivery, front desk) 14%
Teachers: 7%

If the list above is surprising, know that it’s not an easy decision: 22% of respondents said choosing who is on their list shopping is stressful. 

‘Tis the season for gift cards – and to shop for yours truly

Convenient presents such as gift cards (52%), cash (24%) and slippers/socks (24%) reigned supreme as top choices this year. And while 73% said they love finding the perfect gift for someone, nearly a quarter of people (23%) say they end up shopping “mostly for myself” More than half said they enjoy holiday shopping overall, though 35% of people say they’ll be making homemade gifts and food this year.  

New year, same me?: Gen Z looks to change jobs, get their finances in order in 2023

After the gifts have been opened and the wrong sizes exchanged, many Americans look to January as an opportunity to set new financial resolutions. Across all generations, 31% of Americans are looking to build up their emergency fund in the new year, far more than those that are saving to buy a home (9%), purchase a car (15%) or even host a wedding (8%). 

Although 27% of Americans said they plan to get their finances in order in 2023, only 6% said they plan to consult with a financial advisor and 10% planned to invest more in stocks and bonds.

By not working with a professional, these Americans may be missing an opportunity to build a comprehensive financial strategy, according to Kyle Ryan, Executive Vice President of Advisory Services at Personal Capital. 

“When you’re looking to make big changes or chart a new course for the year ahead – or for a big goal further on the horizon, it can be daunting to go it alone,” Ryan says. “Working with a licensed financial professional can help you make a plan that accounts for everything you have, everything you owe, and how to get where you want to go.” 

Tools such as the Personal Capital Dashboard, where users can link all of their financial accounts in one place, can be a powerful goal-setting tool. 

Before you can move forward, it’s important to know where you stand today. The Personal Capital Dashboard gives you a clear, 360-degree view of your whole financial life – no matter where you keep your money. It can be a valuable tool on your journey in 2023, and beyond.

*Methodology: This survey was conducted by Morning Consult, and commissioned by Personal Capital.  Interviews took place online between November 22nd and November 26th 2022 among a national sample of 2,200 adults.  The sample was filtered by age and gender, and weighted on region, race/ethnicity and educational attainment, to reflect the national census.  Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.
Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC.