Despite the continued public outpouring of strong feelings in response to the 2016 presidential election, a new Consumers’ Research holiday survey shows that when it comes to the mood of Americans this holiday season, the election results will have surprisingly little impact. The survey also found that, for the third consecutive year, people look forward to spending time with loved ones much more than receiving presents.
Two-thirds (66%) of respondents said the election would have no impact at all on their holiday cheer. Of the approximately one-third of respondents (33%) who expect the results to impact their holiday merriment, about 16% said it would have a positive effect and 17% said it would have a negative impact.
“After a presidential campaign as bitter and divisive as the one we just experienced, it’s reassuring that the clear majority of Americans won’t let these politics affect their happiness,” said Joe Colangelo, President of Consumers’ Research. “On the other hand, it’s perfectly understandable that other people expect their emotions to spill over into the holiday season.”
The survey also found that:
- 70% of women did not think the election would affect their holiday merriment, versus 61% of men.
- Respondents from the South were the least likely to expect the results to have a negative effect on their holiday merriment (13%), while respondents in the West were the most likely to expect a negative one (20%).
- Those people earning less than $25,000 were more likely than other income groups to say the election would have no effect on their holiday merriment (77%).
The poll also asked Americans what holiday activities they considered the most important. For the third year in a row, most people rated “spending time with loved ones” the highest priority of importance, though the percentage (54%) was a slight dip from last year (59%). The top responses were:
- Spending time with loved ones (54%)
- Sticking to budget (24%)
- Enhancing spiritual life (22%)
- Great meals (17%)
Although spending time with loved ones was easily the most popular activity, it was much more popular among women than men: 63% of women ranked it as being of the highest priority of importance, compared to 44% of men. Only 13% of those surveyed put the highest priority on giving gifts—a 5-point drop from last year’s survey—and 5% rated receiving gifts the highest priority.
The survey also asked what holiday gifts people found “very desirable.” Again, family and friends top the list:
- Quality time with loved ones: 55%
- Money: 28%
- Hand-made gifts: 20%
- Gift card: 18%
The difference between the sexes in this category is also notable: 65% of women rated quality time with loved ones as a very desirable gift, while only 43% of men surveyed had the same response. Ranking close to last in desirable gifts on the list was store-bought goods (11%), which was a less popular option than a financial investment, such as a savings bond or Roth IRA (15%).
In a sign that consumer spending may be trending upward, there was a slight four-point drop in people who said “sticking to [their] budget” is of highest priority (from 28% in 2015 to 24% in 2016).
There is some less positive news in the findings: only 20% of respondents said they thought this holiday season would be “the merriest it could possibly be”—down from 25% last year.
About the Survey
The study was conducted online using the GfK “KnowledgePanel,” an online probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. general population, not just the online population. The study consisted of 1,006 interviews of randomly selected U.S. adult residents, conducted November 11 – 13, 2016, among adults aged 18+. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.
About Consumers’ Research
First formed as the Consumers Club in 1927, Consumers’ Research is the nation’s oldest consumers organization. Visit their website at http://consumersresearch.org/ and follow Consumers’ Research on twitter at @ConsumersFirst.