What’s Trending: Inflation may be a buzzkill for holiday spending & travel

It’s fall, y’all. That means shorter days, pumpkin spice everything, and holiday shopping. American consumers intend to shop smart and save money this year, and MRI-Simmons' Trending Topics and Retail Trends studies have insight into how they plan to do that.

Inflation and the possibility of recession are top of mind for most Americans today. When asked in MRI-Simmons’ 2022 Q3 Trending Topics survey, nearly 8 in 10 American adults report inflation has affected - or is affecting - their 2022 holiday plans. Accordingly, 42% - or over 108 million Americans – plan to spend less on gifts this year compared to previous years, and 38% plan to celebrate at home instead of dining out.

This year, consumers also plan to give gifts to fewer people (30%, 75 million) and give fewer gifts to family and friends (27%, 69 million). With apologies to my manager Jillian, the only way she’ll get a “World’s Best Boss” mug this year is to buy one herself, Michael Scott-style. Gen Z leads in this trend, with 35% being more selective in who gets gifts from them this year (Index 119).

While most Americans are changing their plans, generations are handling things differently. Both Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to give homemade or Do-It-Yourself gifts this year (24%, 153; 21%, 135). Millennials are also 27% more likely to not give gifts at all (15%, 127), compared to the average U.S. adult. Gen Xers plan to simply spend less and eat at home, and Boomers+ are 23% more likely to not change a thing.

More generational divides emerge in MRI-Simmons’ 2022 August Retail Trends Study. Gen Z and Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to spend more time price comparing, shop earlier, and shop online more this holiday season.


While Gen Z and Millennials say they are more likely to reduce or cancel travel this holiday season due to inflation (29%, 119; 29%, 120), many still have travel lined up. 29% of millennials - over 25 million Americans - plan to travel for Thanksgiving (132), compared to 22% of adults overall. 7 in 10 plan to drive or take a day trip, while 32% plan to fly domestically. Stats are similar for Gen Z, in that 29% plan to travel for Thanksgiving (133), and 2 in 3 plan to drive or take a day trip.

Similar trends appear for Winter holiday travel (e.g., Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.). Gen Xers and Boomers under index on planning any travel this holiday season.


MRI-Simmons’ Trending Topics Study explores current behaviors and future intentions as they relate to “what’s trending”. Topic areas may change from wave to wave to stay relevant and focus on current events. With this study, clients can learn more about consumers’ changing habits and mindsets, get a snapshot of what’s hot or what’s not, or identify real-time areas of focus for their brand.

MRI-Simmons’ Retail Trends Study provides a clear line of sight into the motivations and lifestyle factors that drive channel preference to help reach today’s shoppers more effectively and efficiently. Retailers, brands, agencies, and media companies will benefit from this study if they have an interest in understanding consumer usage of and interest in new retail technologies that go beyond the online shopping cart and building strategies around shopping behaviors.

Emily Paschal
Emily Paschal
Emily Paschal is a Senior Researcher at MRI-Simmons, whose career spans market research, project management, and marketing. Emily plays a central role in the development and execution of MRI-Simmons’ focus studies.