ST. LEO, FL ­– While Americans say they are worried about the economy, a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( survey shows they also are concerned about overspending on holiday gifts and entertaining this year.

The most recent Saint Leo poll was conducted from November 13 through November 18 among 1,000 total respondents nationally.

Among those Americans who report they will celebrate Christmas (88.9 percent), 43.4 percent say “yes,” they possibly will overspend on holiday gifts and activities this year. Trying to keep their spending in check is a goal though, as 57.4 percent say they will or did prepare a budget for holiday gifts this year.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales to increase between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent over 2018 to a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.

The polling institute asked all 1,000 respondents what they individually expect to spend in total on holiday gifts for family and friends and the highest spending category garnered the largest response with 27 percent saying they will spend $500 or more. The following table reflects the gift spending as reported:

Holiday Spending on Gifts National %
Under $50 7.9
$50 to under $100 11.8
$100 to under $200 14.6
$200 to under $300 14.4
$300 to under $400 9.7
$400 to under $500 10.6
$500 or more 27.0
Unsure / Don’t know 4.0


Yet economic worries are at the forefront, the poll shows. Each poll respondent was asked to indicate if they are very concerned, somewhat concerned, somewhat unconcerned, or not at all concerned about possible economic pitfalls. The cumulative totals for those very and somewhat concerned are presented in the following table. The strongest concern was recorded for the economy, overall.

Economic Concerns National: Very & Somewhat Concerned – %
The economy 62.7
A recession starting 59.3
I or other household members may spend too much 40.9
Losing my job 24.5


Lucia Farriss, economics faculty member in Saint Leo’s Donald R. Tapia College of Business, noted the breakdown is 24.4 percent saying they are very concerned about the economy, with another 38.3 percent reporting they are somewhat concerned.

“This indicates that while the economy is currently doing well in terms of jobs, there is some pessimism as to whether it will last,” Farriss said. “The concern seems to be about job/income security in the long-term.”

So while gift-givers may be planning their holiday spending, they also may wish Santa brings them a rosy economy this year.

About the Poll

METHODOLOGY: This national survey was conducted from November 13 through November 18, 2019, among a base of 1,000 respondents nationally, using an online instrument. The national sample has an associated margin of error of +/- 3.0 percent at a 95 percent confidence for questions asked of all 1,000 respondents.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can also be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

Media contacts:

Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Writer & Media Relations,, (352) 588-7118 or cell (813) 610-8416

Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).     

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering nearly 60 undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs to more than 19,500 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, 32 education centers in seven states, and an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 95,000 alumni. Learn more at