Inflation, rising interest rates and recession risks are less welcome during the holidays than crazy uncles, uninvited guests and that person who bought Thanksgiving pie at the supermarket.
But high prices, bigger price tags, heavier debt-carrying costs and economic uncertainty are here this year, and they will make most of us as uncomfortable as that uncle belching and unbuckling his pants when the Thanksgiving meal is done.
The question for consumers is how they will handle these unwanted guests, and how they keep financial concerns from ruining the holidays.
While there are dozens of studies showing how consumers have been feeling about inflation, what the research really seems to show is a disconnect between the complaints people are voicing and the actions they’ll be taking.
Roughly one in five Americans expects to feel pressured to spend more money than they are comfortable with buying gifts this year, according to a Bankrate.com study, with younger generations feeling pushed more than their elders. About 30 percent of all adults say they will need either a “buy now, pay later” plan or will take on credit-card debt that they won’t pay off for multiple cycles to complete their holiday shopping.
A WalletHub survey showed that 50 percent of Americans say that Santa won’t be as generous this year, due to inflation.
But other research from both of those firms and others suggests that having those worries is not the same as acting on them.
While half of the people said Santa will be less generous, just over one-quarter of respondents said they expect to spend less than last year on holiday shopping. Several other polls from shopping sites showed that most consumers believe that, in the end, they will do no more than hold the line on spending from 2021 levels.