Despite citing fears of inflation and the rising costs of transportation and utilities as deterrents to holiday spending, most consumers — 74% — told us they plan to spend the same or more this holiday season as they did last year.

Aware that they might have to stretch their holiday budgets, some have already started to cut back in the months leading up to the holiday season — on dining out, apparel and streaming services.

To find out more about their expectations and intentions for the season, we asked 4,000 consumers where and when they will shop and travel — as well as what drives their purchasing decisions.

Holiday spending levels similar to last year

This holiday season, 35% of shoppers plan to spend more than they did last year. High-earning young shoppers, these big spenders skew male and live in metropolitan areas. In addition to spending on their families, they will also spend more on themselves than the average holiday shopper.

Overall, consumers plan to spend an average of $1,430 on gifts, travel and entertainment this year — very similar to the $1,447 they spent last year. That’s up 20% over pandemic-ravaged 2020 and more than 10% over 2019.

Consumers will spend $1,430 on average:
$754 on gifts
$452 on travel
$224 on entertainment

Holiday travel rides again

Pre-pandemic, roughly a third of consumers took holiday trips, most to gather with family and friends and some for a holiday getaway. After months of sheltering in place in early- and mid-2020, however, more than half of consumers were up for traveling during the holidays that year, the vast majority of them by car.

Similar patterns emerged in 2021 and again this year, with almost half of all consumers — 47% — planning to travel this holiday. Of that 47%, more than two-thirds (69%) will travel by car.

This year, however, air travel has picked up again, with almost half of travelers — 46% — planning to fly, up from 40% in 2021 and 33% in 2020. Of course, many will end up using a combination of air and road travel to reach their final destinations.

Those who plan to travel also are big spenders overall: At an average of $2,441 this holiday season, they will spend upwards of $1,000 more than the average consumer. Here again, millennials lead the way, with 63% planning to travel.

Online booking sites are the most popular way to book travel, with 45% of travelers — and almost 60% of traveling millennials — using them for holiday travel.

Travelers more comfortable with hotels and rentals this year . . .

Note: Highest ranked choices from a list of 9 options
Source: PwC Holiday Outlook 2022
Q: What type of accommodation are you likely to stay in this holiday season?
Base: 1,897

. . . while navigating a variety of travel-related concerns

Source: PwC Holiday Outlook 2022
Q: To what extent are you concerned about the following relating to your travel?
Base: 1,897

Why it matters

PwC analysis finds that travelers are particularly prone to changing brands after a bad experience. Demand intelligence tools can help assess shifts in travel trends, shore up loyalty and prepare for the crush of holiday travelers.

View all insights at pwc