Each year, we survey South Africans to understand how they plan to manage their finances over the festive season, where our long summer begins. From polling our respondent's plans from travel to gifting, we aim to unpack just how our nation manages their finances over this period.
2020 has been an unprecedented year in several ways, due to the emergence of COVID-19 and our national lockdown. With many industries and livelihoods at stake, this festive season for many will be a stressful time – and our survey this year revealed many remarkable changes as to how South Africans expect to spend their money and manage their expenses.
To explore our full findings, download our infographic here.
Spending changes: 56% of South Africans think they’ll spend less
According to our research, a majority – as much as 56% - of respondents think they’ll spend less this festive season than they did in 2019, given the severe financial impact that the pandemic has had.
To put that figure into context, that’s a 15% decrease compared to what respondents reported last year; and 47% of respondents further offered that they consider themselves worse off, financially, than they were this time last year.
Of the reasons South Africans cite for this decrease in their spending plans and budgets, 65% of respondents offered that they have less money available due to the COVID-19 crisis and national lockdown. Of the multiple options respondents selected the second greatest majority at 51% did not want to go out or do as much because of the pandemic.
Travel plans: South Africans plan to stay at home
Further, the pandemic has greatly affected South Africans’ travel plans, with 76% of respondents planning to stay at home over the festive season. Of that group, 38% offer that this choice is driven by the severe financial impact that COVID-19 has had on them.
There has further been a massive decrease in the number of South Africans planning to travel overseas, with only 0.5% of respondents planning to travel abroad compared to the 5% of travelers packing their bags for an overseas holiday in 2019.
Of South Africans traveling locally, the vast majority (60%) will be traveling by car, which is the same as previous years, with just 18% by bus and 9% by plane. Most people (63%) will be traveling to visit family or friends, with only a small portion visiting places because they offer peace and quiet (18%).
Of those leaving home for the holidays, 63% will be traveling to KwaZulu-Natal which has emerged as the most popular holiday destination for a consecutive third year, followed by the Eastern Cape (17%).
What were the major differences year-on-year?
In 2019, 83% of respondents planned to purchase gifts for their family over the holidays, 75% respondents indicated likewise this year. Notably, of the gifts that South Africans most wished for themselves, 45% (an increase of 14% from 2019) would most like money, with 19% hoping for a voucher.
As a result of the national lockdown, eCommerce has become a popular way to buy and sell goods this year – and accordingly, 21% of respondents plan to do all their shopping online – up from 13% in 2019, and nearly double the 11% of respondents who indicated similarly in 2018.
While most respondents still prefer to shop at traditional brick-and-mortar stores (68%) - this preference has declined by 8% since 2019, and 13% since 2018.
How can I budget this Christmas?
When setting aside a budget, it’s important to measure your income against your planned expenses – and our Summer Spending Survey this year revealed that 75% of South Africans spend more than usual over the festive season, with food and drink taking up 34% of most budgets, at an average cost of R1 909 per person.
This is followed by gifts, which account for approximately 19% of festive budgets, with South Africans splurging on around R1 034 to spoil their loved ones.
With the holidays rapidly approaching, there are several measures you can take to prepare a Christmas on a budget – including setting up a financial plan, using discounts and sales to purchase gifts, doing a gift exchange, or a Christmas potluck.
How should I set financial priorities?
Setting up financial priorities ahead of the festive season can help you plan – and many South Africans rely on specific means to help them navigate additional expenses over the holiday period.
According to our research, to cope with the extra expenditure over the December period, most people surveyed (42%) plan to draw from their end-of year-bonuses, dip into their savings (38%) or rely on stokvels (25%). Some (22%) plan on taking out a short-term loan, which is up from 17% in 2019, with 9% of respondents spending money on their credit cards to get them through the festive season.
Setting up a list of financial priorities ahead of time can help you not only navigate the festive season, but further the new year – and taking steps such as reviewing the past year’s bank statements, planning for birthdays, and committing to financial resolutions can set you up for success. Our helpful guide has more information to get you started, here.
Practical savings tips you can adopt for 2021
2020 has been an enormously stressful year for many – both financially and personally. While the festive season brings a further expense for many, now is a great time to use several practical savings tips to begin 2021 on the right step.
From opting to save your bonus or use cash instead of a credit card, renegotiating contracts or using loyalty or rewards schemes, there are several ways that you can plan ahead and put new knowledge to good use.
To get a head start, why not download our Financial Readiness Pack, which contains essential tips, resources, and tools to help you get ahead?