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22 December 2015

Naughty Or Nice? 

In absolute terms, the British are the world’s biggest spenders on Christmas gifts, averaging €420 per person, slightly more than Americans, whose average per capita holiday outlay is €360, just above the good people of Luxembourg, at €300.

Generosity is relative, however, even when its beneficiaries are relatives.

Measured as a percentage of average net earnings, neither the British nor Americans are the most lavish gift-givers. Rather, that title belongs to the Romanians, who will spend, on average, 32% of their median net monthly income on Christmas presents.

True, 32% of €346 is just €110, but it’s the thought that counts.

By the same standard, the Czech Republic is the second-most generous nation – spending an average 25% of (€726) median monthly earnings over the holiday season.

By comparison, the Brits and Americans will spend, on average, just 15% of median monthly earnings on gifts.

Meanwhile, at the very bottom of the Christmas league tables, the Dutch will spend a measly €40 per capita (representing just 1.4% of €2,794 median monthly income). While the Dutch are famously frugal, that figure is clearly skewed as it does not take into account Sinterklaas, when gifts are exchanged on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day.

Overall, increased gift-giving is supported by positive growth dynamics in Europe and the United States – where 2016 GDP is anticipated to rise 2% and 2.5%, respectively. Both markets continue to be marked by higher consumer confidence, lower unemployment and only modestly rising inflation.

Indeed, recent polling by Gallup indicates that, compared to last year, Americans intend to splurge by an additional 15% this holiday season, corresponding to some €755 per adult. That figure is up a whopping 34% from 2008, but remains slightly below pre-crisis levels.

The world’s leading consumers are not only spending more, but also doing so earlier, more frequently online – and more often on themselves. According to a recent Deloitte survey, fully half of Americans intend to purchase Christmas gifts for themselves when shopping for others. 

Finally, while Americans are most likely to place neatly wrapped articles of clothing under the tree (followed by gift certificates, electronics and books), sweaters don’t top their own wish list. Rather, when asked what they would most like to receive this holiday season, they appear more naughty than nice.

According to polls, what the majority of Americans really want for Christmas is cold, hard cash.