How wealthy Americans are spending their money this holiday season


Pedestrians view the holiday windows at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship department store in New York, on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021.
Christopher Occhicone | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Despite supply chain disruptions and inflationary issues, retail trade groups and industry watchers are forecasting record levels of sales this holiday season.

But a majority of the millionaires (68%) surveyed in the CNBC Millionaire Survey said they will spend the same this holiday season as last year. Furthermore, the largest percentage of millionaires said they will spend less than $2,500 this holiday season, significantly lower than in 2019.

Here are some of the ways millionaires say they will be spending their money this holiday season.

Smaller sums

When it comes to how much millionaires expect to spend this holiday season, the largest percentage (29%) said they would spend between $1,000 and $2,499, slightly up from 28% last year but down from 34% in 2019.

Smaller sums — between $0-$499 and $500-$999 — saw slight decreases from 2020 but were still higher than what was recorded in 2019. For example, 26% of millionaires said they’d spend between $0-$499 this year, compared to 27% last year and 19% in 2019.

The percentage of people who said they were planning on spending over $25,000 increased one percentage point compared to last year to 4%, which is up from 2% in 2019.

Across the board, 68% of millionaires said they would be spending the same as last year, while 12% said they were spending less and 21% said they were spending more.

Of the millionaires that said they were going to be spending much more this year, at least 10% or more, 39% of those respondents were millennials.

Supply chain issues, inflation and spending

Inflation and supply chain issues have snarled holiday shopping, and millionaires say they are also feeling that crunch.

More than a quarter (28%) of millionaires said they would be giving more gift cards this year and less tangible gifts because of possible shortages and disruptions in the supply chain, while 33% said they were doing their holiday shopping sooner because of that.

Seven percent of millionaires said they will be giving less gifts this year due to inflation.

Twenty percent said they would be increasing their charitable contributions this year, while 7% said they would be increasing their spending and giving this year after having problems last year due to the pandemic.

Who the wealthy are spending on

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the age of the millionaire drastically impacts who they plan to spend the most on this holiday season.

For millennial millionaires, 32% said they’d spend the most on their children, 26% said they’d spend the most on their spouse, and 19% said they’d spend the most on themselves.

In comparison, 27% of baby boomer millionaires said they’d spend the most on their grandchildren, 24% on their children, 24% on their spouse and 3% on themselves.

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