The survey also found that those who overspend on Christmas gifts and entertaining will end up $345 more out of pocket than planned.
According to Clive Van Horen, executive general manager, Retail Products and Strategy, Commonwealth Bank, the total budget blowout by Australians in the pre-Christmas period is expected to reach $616 million, with the majority (60 per cent) of shoppers splashing the cash without bothering to set a budget or track their spending as they go.
After Saturday, December 17, the most popular days to hit the shops will be Sunday, December 18 and Thursday, December 22, with consumers likely to put extended retail hours to the test just 72 hours out from Christmas Day.
The survey also revealed women were more likely to get the majority of their holiday shopping done earlier, with peak dates expected to include Thursday, December 1; Saturday, December 3; and Saturday, December 10. In contrast, most men are expected to leave their gift purchases until December 22 and 23, and will spend an average total of $574 on family and friends.
Women will account for almost $5.2 billion of the $9.9 billion spent by Australians on gifts this year, according to the survey.
Sixty per cent of Aussies don’t set themselves a budget for presents and entertaining in the lead up to Christmas, the study also revealed. Gen Y spenders are expected to fork out $3.3 billion (and overspend by $247 million), while baby boomers said they will spend $2.8 billion (and overspend by $179 million).
“Managing your spending during the holiday season is critical,” said Van Horen.
Commonwealth Bank said there’s been a slight increase in spending on gifts for friends and family since it began tracking festive season expenditure in 2012. Four years ago, the average spend per Australian was $475. In 2016, it’s predicted Australians will each spend on average $599 – a 31 per cent increase on the 2014 figure.
The research also shows that spending during the festive season will vary across the nation, ranging between $500 and $650 per person for Christmas gifts alone.
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