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BMO Harris Bank

December 17, 2014 06:00 ET

Americans Plan to Spend Average of $1,128 During the Holiday Season-BMO Harris Bank

- Over sixty percent say they make impulse purchases

- Gift buying and trips account for biggest spending

- One in ten will take on debt over the holiday season

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--(Marketwired - Dec. 17, 2014) -

Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.

Americans plan to spend an average of $1,128 over the holidays, with nearly two thirds (64 percent) making impulse purchases, according to the BMO Harris Bank Holiday Spending Report.

The survey, commissioned by Pollara, examined the holiday shopping behaviors of consumers between Thanksgiving and New Year's. It marks the final survey in a series of reports from BMO released on holiday spending.

The results of the poll also revealed one third (32 percent) of Americans regret how much they spend over the holiday season. Furthermore, one in ten (11 percent) say they will go into debt because of holiday spending. Also:

  • Half (50 percent) report that the holidays are the only time they spend outside of their means
  • Over one third (38 percent) believe they can compensate for overspending in the New Year
  • Over one third (38 percent) say they overspend more due to the social pressure to make purchases and celebrate during the holidays

Although Americans foresee themselves going into debt because of impulse purchasing and spending outside their means, 18 percent do specifically set money aside in a special account for holiday spending. Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents said they would discuss a budget with their family prior to purchasing gifts.

"A simple way to save yourself from a holiday debt hangover is to save throughout the year and put money aside for purchases such as gifts, travel and entertainment," said Alex Dousmanis-Curtis, Head of Retail Banking, BMO Harris Bank. "If you pay on a credit card, maintain a healthy credit score through the holidays by continually making more than your minimum payments."

When asked about where they spend their money during the holidays, Americans showed that the bulk was on gift purchases:

Holiday Spending Items Average Spent by Americans
Gift Purchases $552.72
Trips $310.24
Entertainment $172.45
Decorations $93.16

"There are a variety of free online tools to help categorize the various expenses that come up this time of year. BMO Harris offers Total Look, which allows users to keep track of where their money is going, and set savings and payment goals," added Ms. Dousmanis-Curtis.

"This year's holiday shopping season is expected to be better than recent years - despite sluggish wage gains - in the wake of strong job growth, increasing stock and home price appreciation, and lower gasoline prices," said Michael Gregory, Head of U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets. "Also helping are improving consumer confidence, aggressive price discounting and a strengthening U.S. dollar. Although Thanksgiving weekend sales appeared to disappoint, surging online spending and efforts by retailers to 'spread out the specials' beyond Black Friday still point to a respectable sales tally this season."

This survey was conducted by Pollara and are compiled from a random sample of 1,300 Americans 18 years of age and over between October 17th and October 21st, 2014. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to ± 2.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through more than 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, go to the company fact sheet. Banking products and services are provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. and are subject to bank or credit approval. BMO Harris Bank® is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with approximately 1,600 branches, and CDN $589 billion in assets (as of October 31, 2014).

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