Trustpilot announcements
September 6, 2023

One-third of Americans would consider going into credit card debt to purchase holiday gifts, Trustpilot finds

Survey reveals consumer trust could be the missing factor retailers need to be successful this holiday season

September 6, 2023, NEW YORK, USA – Today, global online review platform Trustpilot released its ‘Holiday Trust in Spending’ Survey, revealing American consumers are financially stressed this shopping season and plan to spend less money than they did in 2022 and the key factors driving their purchasing decisions. The data also divulges the pain points retailers must look to overcome from the 2022 holiday shopping experience, but notably, there is opportunity for businesses to increase trust with customers ahead of the busiest buying season to drive sales. 

Today’s economic crisis is undoubtedly contributing to consumer stress levels this year with 1 in 3 considering going into credit card debt to purchase holiday gifts this year. This is followed by 41 percent considering Buy Now Pay Later services, while another 2 in 5 would cut down on essential expenses such as food and gas to afford their gift purchases. 34 percent would look at dipping into their savings, and 1 in 3 would consider starting a side hustle to offset the costs. 

It doesn’t stop at how consumers are making purchases, either – they’re rethinking what to spend on as well. 41 percent are considering opting out of purchasing physical gifts that require wrapping and going digital for gifts. 38 percent are saying no to white elephant gift exchanges and Secret Santa, 38 percent are skipping gatherings that require travel, and 34 percent are ditching family gatherings altogether.

That said, on average, Americans who shopped during the 2022 holiday season intend to spend 39 percent less this year, and cost is driving purchasing decisions. Respondents noted an increase in price of items (43 percent) and shipping costs (42 percent) would prevent them from shopping with a business this holiday season. In fact, if delivery prices were to increase, 64 percent would reduce their overall spending to offset the cost, 64 percent would only shop in-store, and 60 percent would only shop with businesses that offer free shipping. 

Delivery carriers were a major pain point for Americans last season, which caused 35 percent to note that the choice in carrier a business provides could prevent them from making a purchase this season. This is due to frustrations in 2022 for lack of communication during the shipping process (57 percent), lost or damaged packages (51 percent), delayed packages (49 percent), and unpleasant delivery people (41 percent). Consumers are also placing blame on the retailer (37 percent) and brand (25 percent), not the delivery company, and they would consider not shopping online with a business again during the holidays if they did not receive a confirmation of shipment (61 percent), delivery (56 percent), or information on how to return (41 percent). 

“Last year’s mishaps damaged consumer trust, and with a tighter grip on their wallets this season, meeting consumer expectations will be key for retailers’ success,” said Mieke De Schepper, Chief Commercial Officer at Trustpilot. “Based on experiences shopping online last holiday season, 30 percent of Americans trust businesses a lot to get them the products they need on time this year, and while that is promising, there is still more work to be done to increase that number.” 

Factors that could impact the trust consumers have in businesses delivering what they need on time this holiday season include: package delays (60 percent), packages being lost and businesses not doing anything about it (58 percent), businesses being out of stock of items (58 percent), being sent incorrect items (54 percent), and packages arriving damaged (51 percent). With ninety-four percent of consumers saying reviews affect their decision to purchase, businesses cannot afford to downplay or ignore these issues.

“People are financially struggling in today’s economy, which is only heightened during the holidays,” said De Schepper. “Turning to places like our reviews platform can support the frustrations consumers are facing and help them to find alternatives that are most cost-effective. 42 percent of Americans who made purchases during last year’s holiday shopping season said consumer reviews often make or break their decision to purchase, which helps retailers understand where customers are getting information about them and how critical leveraging reviews can be during this time.”      

For gifting, on average, Americans are planning to spend $87 per person on holiday gifts this season with fashion and accessories (31 percent), food and beverage (29 percent), and beauty and wellness (28 percent) leading the categories respondents noted as spending the most. While 37 percent plan on holiday shopping before Halloween this year, 25 percent are waiting for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, which aligns with 66 percent noting Black Friday is the shopping moment this season they anticipate spending the most money, followed by Cyber Monday (60 percent). 


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from OnePoll. Total sample size was 2,000 U.S. adults who made purchases during the holiday 2022 season (October – December 2022). Fieldwork was undertaken between August 21–24, 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults age 18+. 

About Trustpilot

Trustpilot was founded in 2007 with a vision to create an independent currency of trust.

A digital platform that brings businesses and consumers together to foster trust and inspire collaboration. We are free to use, open to everybody, and built on transparency.

Trustpilot hosts reviews to help consumers shop with confidence and deliver rich insights to help businesses improve the experience they offer. The more consumers use our platform and share their own opinions, the richer the insights we offer businesses, and the more opportunities they have to earn the trust of consumers, from all around the world.

 Over 213 million consumer reviews of businesses and products of over 893,000 domains have been posted on Trustpilot, and those numbers are growing by more than one review per second.  

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