19 December 2014
A CHOICE survey of Christmas spending has found 52% of Australians will buy gifts for kids, followed by partners (47%), and parents (38%) this year, with gift cards (41%), toys (35%), clothes (33%) and chocolate (32%) topping the list of presents.
The survey found only 6% of Australians will buy gifts for bosses, while we’re as likely to buy gifts for ourselves (17%) as for in-laws (17%).
“Kids will be the big winners this Christmas which means it’s not too late to write a letter to Santa before his sleigh leaves the North Pole,” says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.
“With Aussies planning to spend $298 on average on kids, the chances are a lot of Christmas wishes will be realised.”
However, it wasn’t all good news. The survey also found three in ten Australians are expecting to spend less than last year, with women, lower income earners, those living in regional areas and renters more likely to feel the strain this year.
Parents (43%), women (40%), renters (44%) and low income earners (46%) are likely to find it difficult to cope with the extra spending this Christmas.
“Christmas should be a time for joy and happiness, not financial strain and pain. If you’re on a budget, don’t get swept up in the festive retail hype. Write a list of things you’d like to purchase and shop around for the best prices or wait for the post-Christmas sales to make big purchases,” says Mr Godfrey.
“Retailers might try to entice you to make unplanned purchases but it’s worth staying loyal to your family budget and avoiding a post-Christmas debt hangover.”
The CHOICE survey found low income earners with a credit card reported they were likely to put an average of $358 on credit, while those on a medium income said they’d likely have a debt of $609 and those on a high income of $876.
“Worryingly, of those who said they’d be spending up on credit, a significant proportion predicted they wouldn’t be paying off their card in full straight away,” says Mr Godfrey.
The survey found lower income earners (39%), women (37%), those in regional areas (41%) and parents (40%) said they were unlikely to pay off their credit card bill in full after Christmas.
“If you are planning on carrying a balance forward on your credit card this Christmas it’s worth finding out what interest rate you are paying and switching to a low rate card to minimise the interest payments.” 
Christmas Spending Survey
The survey was designed and analysed by CHOICE with fieldwork by GMI/Lightspeed Research conducted with 1,037 consumers aged 18-75 years between 2 and 8 December 2014. Final data has been weighted to ensure it is representative of the Australian population based on the ABS Census 2011. This survey was conducted as part of the CHOICE Consumer Pulse December, 2014.
 A CHOICE survey in 2013 found 48% of Australians were unaware or unsure about the interest rate they pay on their credit card. CHOICE commissioned a nationally representative survey of 1,045 online Australians between 23 and 26 May 2013. The survey questions were part of a weekly omnibus conducted by Essential Research. When the 79% of respondents who reported using a credit card in the last 3 months were asked, “Do you know the interest rate that currently applies to new purchases on your credit card?”, 48% responded either “No” or “Unsure / Don’t know.”