Economics of Christmas: How much money is made and spent during the holidays?

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The Christmas season is perhaps one of the most celebrated holidays in the world and while many countries consider it as a religious festivity, other nations have created their own definition of this joyful event.

From sharing meals among one’s family and friends, exchanging gifts, to selfless giving to the less fortunate, these are just some of the ways to celebrate the essence of the holidays—and all of these typically come from careful budgeting and stretching one’s finances.

If you scratch the surface and look at it from an economic perspective, how expensive really is Christmas and how much money is made during the most wonderful time of the year?

According to several statistics, Christmas is one of the strongest economic drivers among many nations globally, reporting rapid and dramatic sales increases in almost every retail store worldwide. In the United States, for instance, the retail industry recorded a staggering three-trillion dollars in the 2013 holiday shopping season.

 

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A recent study by the National Retail Federation further revealed that in 2016, an average American spent over $900 for their holiday gift list – and researchers are expecting that this year, it will go up and reach almost a thousand dollar per person.

On a comparative perspective, the spending habits of Australians—for example—are not far from that of the Americans. In fact, they’re one of the most generous in the world when it comes to gift-giving, spending over $11 billion during the holiday season. It is estimated that this year, the average Australian will spend almost $600 for gifts alone. In the developing world, however, spending can be understandably lower but also growing over time.

The commercialization of Christmas season started a long time ago and its influence as strong economic stimuli is expected to grow in the future. People are expected to spend thousands of dollars on gifts, decorations, holiday parties and more. In fact, Christmases around the world, especially in the West, are anticipated to be increasingly extravagant every year.