According to a new survey from CompareCards.com, nothing stresses Americans out during the holiday season like shopping.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans agreed with the following statement: Shopping is the most stressful part of the holiday season. That doesn’t mean that Americans hate to shop, though. In a wide-ranging series of questions about their views on shopping, a large majority of Americans said they had engaged in “retail therapy” at some point and that shopping makes them feel better when they’re down. They also shared where they’re most likely to impulse buy and whether they’ve ever shopped while sad, bored or even intoxicated.
“For most Americans, shopping makes the holidays feel like anything but the most wonderful time of the year,” said CompareCards.com Chief Industry Analyst Matt Schulz. “It can really suck the joy out of the season.”
- 65% of Americans said shopping is the most stressful part of the holidays.
- Generation X is the most likely age group to see shopping as the biggest stressor of the holidays.
- 79% of Americans have done “retail therapy” and 68% of Americans say that when they’re down, shopping makes them feel better.
- Americans say they’re more likely to impulse shop in stores in person than online, but men and women differ.
- At what dollar amount would you begin to think twice before making an impulse buy? Most Americans say $50 or less.
- 1 in 5 Americans has shopped while intoxicated, and millennials are most likely to have done so.
65% of Americans said shopping is the most stressful part of the holidays.
Thirty-four percent of Americans said they “strongly” agreed, and another 31% said they “somewhat agree” that shopping was the most stressful thing about the holidays.
– 69% of men agree that shopping is the most stressful part of the holiday season compared to just 61% of women feeling the same.
– Nearly 3 in 4 parents with young kids (73%) see shopping as a huge stressor
Generation X is the most likely age group to see shopping is the biggest stressor of the holidays.
– Seventy-five percent of Americans ages 38 to 53 agreed that shopping was the most stressful part of the holiday season.
– Just 61% of millennials and 55% of baby boomers said shopping was the biggest holiday stressor.
79% of Americans have done “retail therapy” and 68% of Americans say that when they’re down, shopping makes them feel better.
– Four in 10 Americans say they have engaged in “retail therapy” many times, while 1 in 4 said they had done it “a few times”, and another 14% said they had “once or twice.”
– Men are far more likely than women (39% to 24%) to strongly agree that shopping makes them feel better when they’re down, though when you include those who “somewhat agree,” the numbers even out. (69% of men at least somewhat agree versus 67% of women.)
– Nearly 9 in 10 parents with young kids (87%) said they had engaged in retail therapy at least once.
Americans say they’re more likely to impulse shop in physical stores.
– The median threshold for an impulse by is $50, although 19% of those surveyed said $100 would give them pause.
– 38% of Americans (and 42% of women) say they’re more likely to make an impulse purchase in person
– 30% said they were more likely to impulse buy online.
1 in 5 Americans shopped while intoxicated.
Retail therapy is all about shopping when you’re blue, but in our survey, Americans said they have shopped in many different emotional states – including intoxicated.
- 64% of respondents said they had shopped while excited
- 61% said bored
- 47% said joyous
- 46% said sad
- 37% said angry
- 19% said intoxicated
Men are more likely to shop under the influence (21% versus 17% of women), as with millennials (27% versus no more than 18% in any other age group).
The bottom line: Plan ahead to de-stress your holiday shopping
While you’re not going to eliminate all stress from holiday shopping, it is possible to reduce some of the stress of the season by planning ahead.
Here are a few suggestions from Matt Schulz, Chief Industry Analyst at CompareCards:
- Make a budget: “Giving yourself boundaries on how much you can spend can make you less likely to impulse buy your way into deeper debt.”
- Know what you’re going to buy before you go to the stores: “This can reduce budget-wrecking impulse buys as well. Instead of wandering the aisles looking for ideas, you’re going into a store with a specific goal in mind and then leaving.”
- Be creative with gift-giving: “A budget sometimes means that you can’t buy someone a gift, but it doesn’t mean that you have to scratch someone off your list entirely. Sometimes a phone call, video call or an in-person visit is easier, cheaper and more meaningful than a gift.”
- Use credit cards to your advantage: “The last thing you want after the holidays is a mountain of debt to deal with, so it’s best to only use credit cards if you’re absolutely sure you can pay them off soon. In some cases, getting a credit card might save you money if you find a card with a good sign-on bonus or rewards that give you cash back or discounts on your purchases.”
- Cut yourself some slack: “So many of us feel so much pressure to make the holidays perfect that we end up making ourselves miserable. Went a little over your budget? As long as you didn’t go too crazy, it’s OK.”