Poll: Consumers look to control spending this holiday season

For the fourth year in a row, a poll conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) has revealed that the overwhelming majority of consumers intend to either spend less than the previous year or nothing at all on holiday purchases.

The NFCC began querying consumers on holiday spending habits back in 2010. Since that time consumer optimism has increased only marginally.

  • Data from years 2010 and 2011 reflect the most extreme periods of hardship, both years had 91 percent of respondents indicating that they would spend less or nothing at all on holiday purchases.
  • 2012 saw the most significant change since the poll began, with a four percent year-over-year drop to 87 percent of consumers stating they would spend less than the previous year or nothing at all.
  • There was little statistical difference between 2012 and 2013 data, with this most recent poll revealing that 86 percent of more than 1,400 respondents planned to spend less or nothing.

These findings support a recent survey by the National Retail Federation, which found that shoppers, on average, plan to spend about 2 percent less than they did last year.

“The statistics speak loudly, and underscore that consumers are not willing to repeat the mistakes of Christmases past by spending irresponsibly this year,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. “The persistently high rate of unemployment – coupled with the long duration of unemployment – is still a very real challenge many people are facing.”

If you’ve struggled to keep your holiday budget in the past, download our Holiday Gift Tracker to help you keep tabs on your spending and your budget.

For more holiday help:

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.