ACCC’s Q4 2022 Financial Health Index finds divergent patterns of holiday spending. Inflation had a major impact on increased spending. Many still spent less on holiday shopping.
Boston, MA – January 19, 2023
Higher prices drove spending increases for many American consumers during the 2022 holiday season, according to the American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) Financial Health Index for the Fourth Quarter of 2022. Yet a large percentage of those surveyed said they held the line and spent less on holiday shopping than the year before.
The analysis of household financial health and readiness by ACCC indicates that a quarter of respondents spent more money during the holidays due to higher prices. At the same time, 39 percent of respondents spent less money than they did last year.
Although the year closed with the lowest inflation rate in more than a year with a percentage point of 6.5, prices continued to be high across the board due to inflation during the holiday shopping season between Black Friday and December 31.
According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, American retail sales rose 7.6 percent this holiday season from November 1 to December 24. Restaurants and clothing stores saw a rise in consumer spending, but jewelry and electronics sales were down 5 percent from 2021.
“We are slowly starting to see the impact of the Fed’s actions to mitigate inflation,” said Allen Amadin, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “Nevertheless, prices are still high and affecting consumers’ lives, especially as the new year begins and many may be dealing with holiday debt.”
The Q3 Financial Health Index indicated that 28 percent of respondents were not confident at all in the U.S. economy. For Q4 that number decreased significantly to 18 percent. Simultaneously, the unemployment rate went down to pre-pandemic levels – dipping to 3.5 percent even as the tech industry experienced thousands of layoffs.
The ACCC Financial Health Index for Q4 2022 surveyed 402 respondents with household incomes of $100,000 or less. It was conducted in early January shortly after the end of the holiday season.
Rising costs of necessities continue to impact American households. In September, 42 percent of respondents stated that higher prices have a significant impact on their family’s lifestyle. In December, the number ticked up to 43 percent.
“If this many people say they spent less overall on holiday spending in 2022 than a year before, it means a lot of American households are trying hard to budget carefully as they see prices skyrocket,” said Katie Ross, Executive Vice President of American Consumer Credit Counseling.
In December 2022, the number of Financial Health Index respondents who said they have cut back on entertainment spending rose to 45 percent – up from 37 percent in Q3. More people also said they have cut back on grocery spending.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a sharp increase in certain grocery prices during Q4 of 2022.
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management through credit counseling, debt management, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling, and financial education concerning debt solutions. To help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loan assistance, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living, and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education.aspx