Christmas Gift Spending by Country

The Economist features an interesting chart this week, showing the correlation between a country’s wealth, and the average amount its citizens spend on Christmas gifts. Note the two outliers, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Despite their considerable wealth, the Dutch have clearly maintained their minimalist austerity chic. Not the case in Luxembourg, which has the highest GDP per capita in the EU, and the third highest in the world. So, while you may get a pair of wooden shoes for the holidays from that Dutch relative of yours, that Luxembourgian uncle stands to be much more generous.

It’s also worth noting America’s position. Despite considerably less per capita wealth, we appear to be spending only about $70 less per person than the Luxembourgers. Interesting also that despite their crushing debt woes, the Irish are big givers, at least compared to their PIGS companions: Portugal, Greece and Spain.

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  1. JJ says:

    Correction: I don’t think the outlier for the Netherlands is caused by any stinginess or austerity chique on our part. The more probable cause is cultural. In the Netherlands, we celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 5th. St. Nick is to us what Santa Claus is to you – in fact, historically speaking you basically ripped our idea and combined it with Christmas. People with small children in the Netherlands almost never give gifts for X-mas but do that on December 5th instead, and they tend to really push the boat out, at least for as long as the children still believe in the existence of St. Nicholas. I bet if you would count the St. Nicholas spending along with the rest, we wouldn’t be that much of an outlier. Once all the children are grown, some families move the gift giving to X-mas because it is easier to get everybody together when there’s an official holiday (December 5th is a normal working day for us when it’s on a weekday), and because it means only 1 family get together to organise in December instead of 2, or they abandon gift-giving altogether – but there are tons of people who continue to do their family gift-giving on or around December 5th for the rest of their lives, and hence never give any X-mas presents to anybody.

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  2. Tom says:

    The Dutch are not as much outliers as would seem at first sight. The main explanation for this is ‘Sinterklaas’ , which is celebrated on the eve of the 5th of December and is the main gift-exchanging moment in the Netherlands, keeping Christmas more ‘sober’ instead.

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  3. Tom says:

    The real story here seems to be that the comment section is not utilized as the wonderful tool for discussion it could be. The amount of double posts suggests that many did not bother to read the other comments, i.e. “listen” instead of “speaking” first. And thats even though there is the great thumbs up button.
    Maybe this could be amended by placing the “Leave a comment” box at the end of the comments section for i assume many of the double posters thought they were actually the first to leave that specific comment.
    And enlarging the “like” and “dislike” buttons might help, too

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  4. eannie says:

    Unless you included Sinterklass buying statistics you are inaccurate on the spending in the Netherlands.

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  5. Tim says:

    After reading this post and the associated comments, I have concluded that the Dutch are bad at reading other’s comments before posting.

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  6. Benjamin Welby says:

    Did this get done last year, or the year before? Would be interested to see whether austerity measures or gloom and doom have changed spending habits at all

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  7. Cheap_Cheese head says:

    It is true that the Dutch place Christmas on a secondary present giving spot in December. We have a different feast being Sinterklaas at the fifth of Dec.

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  8. Jen says:

    Is this really spending per citizen? Or spending per inhabitant. If it’s the latter, the Luxembourg high may be explained by the large number of expats living there, who are going home for the holidays “with full bags”.

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