Skip to content
Media releases
30 November 2021

Financial stress makes Christmas not so jolly for two out of five New Zealanders

Consumer NZ’s Sentiment Tracker has revealed that two out of five of New Zealanders feel the added cost of Christmas adds financial stress during the holiday season.

One in four feels that expectations from others and social pressure lead to more spending at Christmas time.

“For many people, it's been a tumultuous year financially – the rising cost of living is really squeezing some households and Christmas is becoming a bit of a financial pressure point. Our Sentiment Tracker shows that to afford Christmas, half of New Zealanders have a Christmas budget to make it through their festive finances," Consumer NZ head of communications and campaigns Gemma Rasmussen said.

Antoinette Webby-Green has three children and a large extended family, so she has to balance the books carefully to make Christmas work.

“I budget about $100 per person then divide that by 52 weeks of the year to make sure there’s money left for Christmas – that’s about $900. Budgeting helps us get ahead when its Christmas, because that’s usually a time with less income and increased spending,” Webby-Green said.

“In my family there are three children and my husband, then I have six adults with extended family to buy for as well. Over the past couple of years, we’ve turned gifting with the adults to Secret Santa to save money. Although Christmas is a day for spending time with family, it can be expensive too.”

Marketers use the pressure of finding the perfect gift to their advantage over the holiday season. In the latest episode of Consumer NZ’s Consume This podcast, Dr Paul Harrison – Deakin Business School Department of Marketing unit chair and senior lecturer – talks about how the culture of gift giving at Christmas is used by advertisers.

"Gift giving is one way of signaling to members of a group that we care about them and that we'd like to continue to belong to that particular group,” Dr Harrison said.

“We respond a lot to marketing messages in a very subtle way. Marketers constantly intervene with ways to make it as easy as possible for you to purchase. As an example, cues like Christmas trees or festive music enable feelings of generosity during the Christmas period. The point when you actually buy is when they've succeeded, and you haven't noticed all of these different little interventions leading up to the purchase.”

Consumer NZ shopping tips over the holiday season

  • Avoid commercial Christmas hamper payment schemes like Chrisco, you end up paying much more than the value of the goods received.
  • Set up a Christmas budget and put money aside each week.
  • Shop by special throughout the year but try to price monitor to identify true specials. A Consumer NZ mystery found that some retailer “specials” might not be all that special.
  • Consider a Secret Santa for your family.
  • Encourage secondhand or homemade gifts.


Our survey: The Consumer NZ Sentiment Tracker is a nationally representative body of data that grows by more than 1000 respondents every three months. Tracking everything from environmental awareness and financial sentiment to general levels of trust for major industries – it looks to provide a holistic understanding of how New Zealanders feel about a range of issues.

Like what you're reading?