As noted in our holiday spending report published in early December, both historical and current CivicScience data predicted growth in both shopping and spending during the 2018 holiday. But plans and reality are often two different beasts. CivicScience is a forward-looking data company, tracking trends, habits, and products on an ongoing basis. However, we often like to take the time to follow up on people’s intent – especially after the biggest shopping time of the year.

After asking consumers a simple question: if they spent more, less, or the amount budgeted this holiday, the results are big. Of 1,990 U.S. adults, over ¼ say they spent more than intended this holiday.

Rebasing the topline to include just the 1,750 holiday shoppers (excluding ‘Does not apply’) we see that 30% of these spenders spent more than planned.

In contrast, 21% said they spent less.

With a volatile stock market and declining consumer economic sentiment, many spending less is no surprise.

Also no surprise, those who said they spent more are more than 2x as likely to have gone into debt than those who spent less and 4x as likely as those who stuck to their budget.

Holiday Spending and News Year’s Resolutions

People who stayed within their budget are more likely to not be making a resolution this year. As found in a recent post, happier people are less likely to make resolutions than unhappy people. So maybe people who budget are happier. As you can see, those who spent more are the most concerned about improving their diet as a resolution, and just 9% of the heavy spenders want to manage their finances better.

Age Matters

As we’ve found in the past, Gen Xers are the most likely to be in debt, and it appears they are the most likely to have spent more on holiday shopping in 2018.

Of those who spent more, women are the more likely heavy holiday spender.

Consumption is Consumption

It could be intuited that people who spend a ton of time on social media buy a lot more than those who aren’t glued to their screens as much, and our past research has proved this. The following four insights indicate there are correlations between those who spent more this holiday and consuming media—and even food—at higher rates than the general population.

Heavy Social Media Users Spent More

Netflix Users Splurged 

Eating Out = Buying More

Movie-Goers Love to Shop, Too

While four different categories, those who watch Netflix, spend multiple hours a day on social, regularly eat out or order take-out, and go to the movies at least once a month all correlate with having gone beyond budget during the 2018 holiday. Needless to say, the heavy holiday spender is not the most frugal individual.

Perhaps this all comes down to personal spending habits, whether or not these people are living within their means.

Ah, the Economy

Ultimately, as it always does, this comes down to economic outlook. At least a little.

Those who spent more this holiday are the most likely to say the economy will get better, and the least likely to be doom and gloom. However, of those who spent less, 39% think the economy will get worse.

Whatever the reasoning for spenders to spend more, it will be interesting to see how the stock market, the 2020 election, and the outlook on the U.S. economy all impact the holiday shopping season of 2019. We almost can’t wait.