Another tight Christmas is on the books as rising prices continue to eat into Australians’ Christmas budget and fuel financial pressure concerns, according to new research from global data and insights company, Pureprofile Limited.

Pureprofile’s 2023 Christmas Report found that two-thirds of Australians (65%) were curtailing their festive season celebrations, with 42% expecting to buy fewer gifts and 60% avoiding travel to cut down on discretionary spending. Despite having to work within tighter budgets this year, over half (54%) of Australians are still feeling positive about the holidays.

Food will be a focus this festive season as more than two in five (43%) Australians choose to spend less on food and drinks; up from 37% in 2022 and 28% in 2021. While the average food and drink budget ($306) is level with the previous two years ($310 in 2021 and $302 in 2022), one in four are also looking to find cheaper alternatives.

After a surge of enthusiasm for early Christmas shopping in 2022, only two-thirds (67%) will shop for presents in November or earlier, down from 72% in 2022 and 69% in 2021.

Pureprofile CEO, Martin Filz said, “This marks our fourth consecutive Christmas season characterised by tighter budgets and reduced spending. While this is not surprising, it is interesting to note where Australians are making the most cuts – discretionary spending on travel and gifts are often the first to be reduced in challenging times.

“However, we’re also now looking to the likes of essentials like food and drink to recoup some celebration costs. We’re seeing a thriftier Australia that’s placing an emphasis on thoughtful and intentional spending; where the holiday spirit is retained, but celebrations take on a simpler, more meaningful tone.

“As needs and priorities continue to evolve, it’s imperative that businesses, policymakers, and government agencies remain deeply attuned to consumer sentiments and trends. The data from our Christmas Report underscores the dynamic nature of consumer behaviour and stresses the importance of agility and adaptability.”

Similar to last year, Australians are more intentional about making their money count, spending on those that matter most by buying fewer gifts (42%) or choosing only to buy gifts for their children (22%). Gift budgets have also decreased for the second year in a row, from $430 in 2021, $424 in 2022 to $388 in 2023.

Gift preferences, however, have remained relatively stable compared to previous years, with gift cards and money being the most sought-after gifts to give (47% and 24% respectively) and receive (44% and 36% respectively). Other desired gifts this year are clothes and shoes (28%) and food or drinks (27%).