Australians spending less this Christmas

Peter Terlato 23 November 2016

Santa Grinch Christmas presents unhappy

Aussies aged 18-34, those on lower incomes, and women reined in their spending the most in 2016.

A month out from Christmas, the latest research shows Australian shopping habits are slightly more subdued than this time last year, but spending intentions remain higher than the previous five years.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Survey for November asked Aussies to evaluate their spending plans for the forthcoming silly season.

A little over one third of respondents (34%) said they were planning to spend less, around half (52%) anticipated spending the same as last year, while more than one in ten (14%) assumed more.

This compared with 30% spending less, 53% spending the same and 7% spending more in 2015.

The net balance - the proportion of people expecting to spend more minus the proportion expecting to spend less - was at -13% in 2015. This fell a further 7.1% to 20.1% in 2016.

The rate of decline has been consistent since the survey began asking the question in 2009.

The survey also saw a 2.4% drop in the "time to buy a major household item" sub-index during November.

Despite the annual downturn, this year's retail sales results are shaping up to be relatively consistent with a 1.5-2% rise in per capita spending. Given population growth is tracking at 1.4%, total retail sales will likely rise between 3-3.5% per year.

Shoppers in NSW reduced their spending intentions the most since last year, while Victorians, South Australians, Queenslanders and Western Australians all plan to spend more in 2016.

Aussies aged 18-34, those on lower incomes, and women reigned in their spending the most in 2016.

Not sure what to buy for that special someone this Christmas? Use our ultimate guide for great gift ideas.

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