It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Here’s How Houstonians Will Shop and Spend This Holiday Season

Spoiler: Our budgets have gotten bigger.

By Laura Furr Mericas November 8, 2019

Holiday shopping is upon us. 

If you haven’t started your holiday shopping, you’re not totally behind. More than a third of Houstonians started making their lists and checking them twice before trick-or-treaters arrived last week, and a good 44 percent will be hitting the shops (and sites) this week and next, according to Deloitte’s 2019 Holiday Survey. The annual report surveyed more than 4,400 shoppers nationally, including 416 in Houston, earlier this fall. 

Apart from the stress-inducing data above, the study shed light on how Houstonians will shop this year compared to the rest of the country—and compared to years past. Here are our biggest takeaways:

Houstonians will spend more than the national average, and more than they did last year. 

The average Houstonian household will spend about $1,562 this holiday season on gifts, clothes, food, and home decor to get them in the holiday spirit. That’s $50 more than they spent last year. But nationally, people are spending about $40 less than they did last year—down to $1,496 from $1,536 in 2018. 

Houstonians, like the rest of America, are spending the most on experiences. 

Of that average budget, Houstonians will spend $606 on experiences and celebrations, like holiday parties, meals out, and romantic staycations. That’s just under 40 percent of their total holiday spending, which falls in line with the rest of the country. 

Gifts are the next big-ticket category, responsible for about 34 percent of budgets in Houston and nationwide. Houstonians spend about $536, on average, on gifts each year, with clothes and toys the post commonly purchased items. 

The remaining chunk of the typical Houstonian’s holiday budget goes toward non-gift items, including clothes for shoppers and their kids and holiday decorations. 

More Houstonians give back during the holidays. 

About half of the Houstonians surveyed said that they purchase items they will donate over the holiday season, compared to about 41 percent of respondents nationally. Houstonians spend less on these items—about $99 compared to $151 nationally—but if half of our massive metro gives, that has to count for something, right?

Early-bird shoppers plan to spend big bucks ...

Around the country, shoppers who get out ahead of the rush tend to spend about $400 more than those who shop later. Here, we take that to another level: Houstonians who begin shopping before Thanksgiving spend $795 more than those who start shopping after Turkey Day. 

... but they won’t be shopping much earlier than the rest of the country.

The first two weeks of December will be peak shopping time in Houston, with 69 percent of respondents reporting that they plan to do their holiday shopping during this period. Still, 36 percent of Houstonians started shopping in October, with 59 percent shopping before Thanksgiving. This breakdown is consistent with that of the rest of the country, though throughout the U.S., peak shopping time is falling later than normal, likely because of where Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday fall this year.

Houstonians really want to shop online.

It’s no secret that shoppers around the world are spending less time in shops and more time online. Americans are spending over half of their budget (56 percent) on online purchases, and 54 percent of U.S. respondents said they prefer to shop online. In Houston those numbers were even higher: We will spend 58 percent of our budgets online, with 62 percent of local shoppers reporting that they prefer shopping from the comfort of their own computers to braving holiday shopping traffic. 

Free shipping matters most.

More so than discounts, cash-back, or BOGO deals, Houstonians said that free shipping is the most appealing promotional offer. Too, 85 percent of Houstonians said free shipping is more important than fast shipping.  

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