With the 2022 holiday shopping season officially in full swing, the question of how to pay for holiday-timed gifts and experiences is also top of mind. After all, this is a time of year when debt tends to rise as a result of seasonal spending and last-minute holidays needs. So how will Americans be navigating their expenses this year? 

As the data show, 11% of U.S. adults plan to take on some amount of debt to buy holiday gifts this year. This is up 22% from pre-pandemic CivicScience data in 2019. Additionally, 11% of Americans are not yet sure if they’ll take on debt this holiday shopping season, an increase of 57% in as many years. 

Who is planning to take on debt? This year’s holiday debt-takers are the most likely to be 18-24 years old. This is a shift from 2019, when those choosing to take on holiday debt were most likely to be 25-44 years old. 

Those planning to take on debt in order to buy holiday gifts also report that they are financially better off than before the COVID-19 pandemic – just, evidently, not financially well-off enough to avoid dipping into debt over their purchases. 

Additionally, those who plan to travel for the holidays are also the most likely to take on debt to purchase gifts – perhaps so they don’t turn up empty-handed. Not surprisingly, data show that holiday shoppers who plan to spend more this year as compared to last year are more likely to take on holiday debt. Overall, holiday debt-takers tend to be bigger spenders in general, as they’re more likely to spend on gifts and travel costs.  

As a result, it’s no surprise that holiday debt-takers are less concerned about the state of the economy. Those who believe it’s a good time to make major purchases are over two times more likely to take on holiday debt than those who think it’s a bad time – suggesting that, for many, there’s no time like the present to open their wallets.  

As the end of the year comes into view, it’s clear that many Americans are ready to take on some level of debt in order to make the most of the holiday cheer – and retailers stand to benefit.

Learn more about what’s in store for holiday shopping this year with the free CivicScience Consumer Holiday Tracker.