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Coinstar Survey Reports Holiday Stress and Seasonal Budgeting Trends

Survey results show most people find joy in gift giving, but early retail merchandising and searching for just the right gifts could dampen the mood
BELLEVUE, Wash. - 
October 8, 2019

Celebrating winter holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah is much anticipated by many Americans. The annual Coinstar® Holiday Survey among 2,002 adults found that 8 in 10 respondents (78%) said their feelings toward the holidays were happy, and about one-third (35%) said they love shopping for holiday gifts (“can’t wait”). In contrast, half of respondents reported that they are stressed about giving the right gift even though many don’t recall what gifts they received last year.

“The Coinstar Holiday Survey gives us insight into consumer attitudes about the holidays, spending patterns and budgeting practices,” said Michael Jack, vice president of product management and consumer experience at Coinstar. “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.”

 Top Holiday Survey Findings

  • Half (51%) stress about giving the right holiday gift; women are more likely to stress with 56% reporting stress compared to men at 46%
  • Nearly one-third (31%) don’t remember what gifts they received last year; 38% of men reported not remembering last year’s gifts compared to 25% of women
  • Two in five (38%) say an argument or disagreement would put someone on the “naughty list,” negatively affecting the gift they give
  • Half (51%) are irritated by early retail holiday merchandising, a 15-point increase over the previous year (36% in 2018)
  • Nearly one in two (46%) are planning or considering cashing in spare change to help pay for holiday purchases ($71 on average estimated in spare change around the home)

Gift Givers Spend More on a Holiday Gift than Other Occasions

 One reason holiday shoppers may be stressed about finding the right gift is that gift givers reported that they spend the most money for someone on a holiday gift (72%) than other occasions including a birthday or anniversary. Budgeting for gifts can be a stress reliever and 67% of those surveyed say they have a holiday gift budget. Two in five holiday shoppers (42%) plan to spend between $100 and $400 on holiday gifts this year and cashing in loose change can help offset these expenses.

Whether stressed or not over holiday shopping, the vast majority of respondents (87%) say it gives them more joy to give a gift than to receive one.

Disagreements and Past Behavior May Land Someone on the ‘Naughty List.’

 The Coinstar holiday survey reports that a past argument or disagreement is the top reason for putting someone on the ‘naughty list’ impacting the gift given. Forgetting to give a gift last year does not go unnoticed by 13% of respondents who would add you to the list. Less than 10% of people surveyed say social media activity and political views of gift recipients negatively affect the gift they give.

If obligations and expectations were removed from the gift-giving equation, half of the survey respondents said they would give gifts to family members only. About one in 10 (11%) said they would give to charity; 10% would either give no gift at all or buy a gift for themselves.

Survey Methodology

Coinstar commissioned Atomik Research to run an online survey of 2,002 adults in the United States who give gifts to others in observance of a winter holiday. The margin of error fell within +/- 2 percentage points with a confidence interval of 95 percent. The fieldwork took place between September 4 and 6, 2019.  Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency.

About Coinstar, LLC

Based in Bellevue, Wash., Coinstar owns and operates the largest fully automated, multi-national network of self-service coin counting kiosks. With more than 21,000 kiosk locations, Coinstar provides convenient and reliable coin counting services at mass merchants, grocery and drug stores and financial institutions. Consumer solutions include coin-to-cash, coin-to-eGift card and charity donation options. For kiosk locations and information, visit


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