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Australian consumers feeling the pinch this Christmas 

A national CHOICE survey reveals cost-of-living pressures are set to curb spending for many this festive season. 

Last updated: 28 November 2022


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Need to know

  • Over a third of Australians say they'll be spending less this Christmas than last year 
  • Over six out of 10 women surveyed say they will be funding Christmas differently, compared to less than half of the men surveyed
  • CHOICE has put together some money-saving tips for tough economic times 

It's no secret that consumers have been facing higher cost-of-living pressures lately. For starters, the cash rate set by the Reserve Bank of Australia stood at 0.10% in April 2022, but by early November it had jumped to 2.85%. 

And, as always, many home loan interest rates went along for the ride. 

The recent jumps in the official rate were aimed at providing relief from inflation, another major source of economic discomfort for Australian households. The result is that many Australian consumers are now feeling financial pressure from both sides. 

To gauge how we're all holding up as the shopping season approaches, CHOICE commissioned a nationally representative survey of 1000 Australians in early November. The results put some numbers on current consumer sentiment. 

Over a third of Australians told us they plan to spend less for Christmas this year than last

Over a third of Australians (34%) told us they plan to spend less for Christmas this year than last. Among the group that thinks they will spend less, there's a higher proportion of Baby Boomers and Generation X consumers compared to their Gen Z and Gen Y counterparts.


Aimee is one of many who say they will have less to spend on Christmas this year.

Everything's going up 

While mortgage stress is a reality for many homeowners, most Australians cite inflation as the main reason they'll be curbing their spending habits. For many of us, the bills keep getting bigger while the paycheck stays the same. 

Among respondents who say they plan to spend less on Christmas this year than last year, about six out of ten say they simply have less money to spend. 

One of those feeling the pinch is 34-year-old Aimee from Melbourne.

Aimee has picked up a side hustle to help with her increased mortgage repayments. "I'm definitely feeling the pinch, and I know I'm in a good position with secure work."

Apart from increases in her mortgage payments, like most Australians Aimee is aware of prices going up in many areas. 

There's just not much wiggle room left anymore

"The price of petrol has really gone up – I'm finding it quite expensive even though I drive a small car and live close to work," she says. Aimee has also seen significant increases in the costs of groceries and fresh fruit and vegetables. "There's just not much wiggle room left anymore."

In order to make ends meet Aimee has picked up some casual work during school holidays and weekends. She's also reconsidered her plans for the festive season.

"I'm usually able to make a trip every second year to visit extended family overseas but I just can't afford the flights this year," says Aimee. 

Activities in the lead-up to Christmas will be different, too. 

"I won't be able to go out with friends and work colleagues the way I used to. We'll be choosing cheaper venues, or not drinking, in order to still be able to spend time together."

Additional findings from our national survey

  • 61% of the respondents who agreed they need to fund Christmas differently this year were women, while 46% were men
  • Nearly a third haven't thought about where the funds will come from – 31% 
  • Around four in 10 of Australians – 43% admit they find it hard to stick to a budget when it comes to Christmas spending 
  • A third of us want to splurge for Christmas – 34% told us they like to spend during the festive season 
  • Just 59% will be buying gifts 
  • Food and drink is the most common expense not including presents  71% say that's what they'll be spending their money on this festive season

Many consumers are seeing the impact of inflation on the increased cost of everyday goods.

CHOICE money-saving tips 

We've put together some tips for saving money this Christmas which can help you make the most of your budget this festive season, with tips on how to save on food, decoration, gifting and travel. 

We've also tapped our in-house experts to deliver consumers our top money-saving tips

Tackling the issue from another angle, we also put together a guide on some of the most common money-saving myths – actions that are supposed to save you money but usually don't.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.