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How Much Will Americans Spend On Gifts This Holiday Season?

People plan to participate in an average of six different gift exchanges this year. 

A new survey estimates Americans will spend over $24 billion in total for gifts this year — and many of those gifts will be given in Secret Santa or White Elephant exchanges.


The poll of 2,000 U.S. adults who celebrate Christmas revealed 84% participate in gift exchanges during the holiday season — 54% participating in Secret Santas and 48% in White Elephants. Gift exchanges were found to be extremely popular among younger generations. Nearly all Gen Z respondents said they were participating in an exchange this year (98%), closely followed by millennials (72%).


Meanwhile, 45% of Gen X and 50% of baby boomers were either not participating or just aren’t sure yet.

Commissioned by home discount retailer, Big Lots, and conducted by OnePoll, the survey found that throughout the holiday season, participants said they plan to participate in an average of six different gift exchanges this year and spend $88 overall for all of their gift exchanges.

“Over three-quarters (77%) said they like participating in gift exchanges and will spend 11 hours shopping for the right gift, with 80% shopping in-person and 74% shopping online.

Across generations, Gen Z was found to do the most of their shopping in-person (92%), while baby boomers are doing the least amount of in-person shopping (70%),” said the survey.


When it comes to the recipients of these gift exchanges, participants said they were likely to exchange with their extended family (68%), friends (64%) and coworkers (53%). Twelve percent even participate in gift exchanges with strangers they meet in online communities. Three in four will face budget limits on gift exchanges this year, averaging $49 per exchange, but 87% admit they’ll likely go past the limit.


Seven in 10 (73%) said they already know where they’re going to shop for gift exchanges this year — 49% preferred to shop at places that are able to offer products at discounted prices.

However, when they find the perfect gift for someone, 52% are likely to shop around to try and find it for a better price somewhere else. Only a third (32%) will buy it there on the spot.


“Whether it’s parents buying presents for their kids or a Secret Santa gift exchange between co-workers, there’s an innate desire within all of us to find the perfect gift for everyone on our holiday shopping lists,” said John Alpaugh, SVP, marketing at Big Lots. “For many, having the ability to shop for everyone in a one stop, bargain-filled shop makes finding the perfect gifts even easier and more convenient.”


Produced in association with SWNS Research

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