An Amazing Number of People Can’t Remember What Gifts They Got Last Year

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U.S. consumers are expected to loosen their wallets a bit this year and spend around 4% more on holiday gift giving than they did last year. From a retailer’s perspective, that’s good news. But what about consumers? Are they spending more and enjoying it less? Or even enjoying it at all?

The vast majority of Americans (78%) find the holiday season to be a happy time and more than a third (35%) can’t wait to begin shopping for the right holiday gifts.

But, according to a new survey from Coinstar, just over half (51%) say they feel stressed about giving the right gift, with women (56%) more likely than men (46%) to feel stressed.

Choosing the right gift may be especially stressful because nearly three-quarters of Americans (72%) spend more on holiday gifts than they do on birthday or anniversary presents. Some 42% of holiday shoppers plan to spend between $100 and $400 on holiday gifts this year.

And their return on that spending? Nearly a third of those surveyed (31%) don’t remember the gifts they received last year. Men, of course, are more forgetful (38%) than women (25%).

So what do gift-givers gain from all the energy and cash they put into finding the perfect gift? Joy. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) said that giving delivers more joy than receiving.

Nearly two in five gift-givers (38%) say that an argument or disagreement would take someone off their gift list. Forgetting to send a gift last year is remembered by 14% of givers and is likely to lead to a spell of forgetfulness on their part this year.

Strangely, perhaps, less than 10% of those surveyed say that political differences or activity on social media would keep someone off their gift list.

The whole gift-giving formula could disintegrate without too much help, however. Half of Americans said that if they had their way they would give gifts only to family members. About 10% say they would contribute to charity, and 10% said they’d either spend nothing or buy something for themselves. And, some stores open last year won’t be around in 2019. These are the retailers closing the most stores this year.

Overall, Coinstar Vice President of Product Management and Consumer Experience Michael Jack says, “This year’s results show that the stress meter is high for many, but we are pleased to know that most Americans are budgeting for holiday gift purchases and that a positive attitude toward the holidays prevails.”

The survey results were reported Tuesday by Coinstar, the company that operates more than 21,000 self-service coin-counting kiosks in locations throughout the United States and that recently fielded an online survey of 2,002 U.S. adults who say they give gifts to others during the winter holiday season.

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