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Survey Reveals Holiday Dirty Little Secrets

Results shine light on unspoken habits and attitudes regarding gift giving, budgeting, and spending for the season
BELLEVUE, Wash. - 
October 9, 2018

When thinking about the winter holiday season, thoughts of beautifully packaged gifts, glittering holiday decorations and lively family gatherings may come to mind – but the annual Coinstar® Holiday Survey among 2,000 adults exposes some surprising secrets surrounding the holidays.

“The holiday season is much anticipated by many Americans and is often a joyful time as families get together for meals, gift exchanges and other annual traditions,” said Sandi Stoller, director of marketing at Coinstar. “This year’s Coinstar Holiday Survey goes beyond the typical holiday topics uncovering some interesting secrets that may strike a chord with consumers celebrating the season.”

Top Holiday Survey Findings

  • One in four (26%) treat gift giving as a sport, admitting to being competitive when it comes to giving presents to family and friends
  • 19% say they feel guilty about regifting, but the majority (65%) do it anyway
  • Nearly half (45%) buy back-up gifts to have on hand to offer unexpected gift givers
  • One in five (21%) value time alone or with friends instead of family during the holidays
  • Over one-third (36%) say they find it irritating that retailers put up holiday decorations and merchandise as early as September or October

Employing Strategies to Reduce Holiday Shopping Stress

One in five (19%) of survey respondents say they get stressed out just thinking about holiday shopping; many report spending and gifting strategies that may help reduce the stress. Nearly one-quarter (24%) say they will spend less this year than last, and a majority (65%) plan to regift to help stretch holiday budgets. More than half (53%) are planning on cashing in spare change, equaling about $78, to help pay for holiday gifts, decorations or other holiday expenses.

Participating in Secret Santa office gift exchanges may also be the cause of anxiety for some. Thirty-five percent of adults surveyed have a negative view toward this type of activity. Reasons cited include don’t like spending the money, feelings of obligation and co-workers not following the rules.

Most Consumers Create a Holiday Budget

The Coinstar Holiday Survey shows that consumers are maintaining their holiday budgeting and spending patterns. About two-thirds (68%) of the 2018 respondents say they have a holiday gift-buying budget, compared to 65% responding this way in 2017.

Spending remains consistent as well with about half of respondents saying they plan to spend between $100 and $400 on holiday gifts; 46% in 2018 versus 45% in 2017. The most popular gifts cited to give this year include gift cards (58%) and personal items (56%) such as clothing or jewelry.

Survey Methodology

Coinstar commissioned Atomik Research to run an online general-population survey of 2,004 adults in the United States who give gifts to others in observance of a winter holiday. The margin of error fell within +/- 2 percentage points with a confidence interval of 95 percent. The fieldwork took place between September 6 and 10, 2018.  Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency.

About Coinstar, LLC

Based in Bellevue, Wash., Coinstar owns and operates the largest fully automated, multi-national network of self-service coin counting kiosks. With nearly 20,000 kiosk locations, Coinstar provides convenient and reliable coin counting services at mass merchants, grocery and drug stores and financial institutions. Consumer solutions include coin-to-cash, coin-to-eGift card and charity donation options. For kiosk locations and information, visit


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