Summer Spending Survey 2023

South Africans are expected to spend more than R200 billion this holiday season

As the holiday season approaches, many of us are preparing to celebrate in the middle of a complex financial landscape. According to our sixth annual Summer Spending Survey, R224 billion in spending is expected during this festive season, representing a 4.4% decline from the previous year.

Despite this slight dip in overall spending, the average budget allocated for extra festive season expenses stands at R5,707 per person. Notably, 40% of South Africans express an improved financial outlook compared to the previous year, underscoring a positive trend in economic well-being.

We understand that financial well-being intertwines with mental well-being. As we navigate our holiday plans, we see the conscious effort to balance necessities and luxuries. This year, a significant 70% of South Africans expressed a preference for gifts that can assist with everyday expenses, indicating a pragmatic shift in consumer priorities.


The survey sheds light on the evolving dynamics of our festive spending


Food and Beverage Spend

Food and beverages continue to dominate expenses, constituting over 33% of this year's festive season budget. However, this is coupled with a growing awareness among many of us about prioritising necessities over luxuries as households grapple with the increasing cost of living.


This Year in Gifting

Gifting preferences reflect a similar sentiment, with money and shopping vouchers topping the wish list for 68% of us. Notably, 15% express a desire for grocery vouchers, emphasising the significance of practical gifts in times of economic uncertainty.


A notable shift in Travel

Travel plans are undergoing a notable shift, with only 21% indicating travel during the festive period—the lowest proportion since our survey's inception in 2018.


Affordability as a rising key factor

Affordability emerges as a key factor, with 48% of non-travellers citing financial constraints as the primary reason. The impact of fuel price hikes and the high cost of living contribute to this trend.


Budgeting and Spending

The reliance on savings has decreased, with only 37% planning to use savings for festive expenses, down from 40% in the previous year. Instead, 44% of South Africans anticipate a year-end bonus, a substantial portion of which will be allocated to cover additional holiday expenses.


The use of Credit and Loans

A nuanced reliance on credit cards and loans has increased from 27% to 32%, highlighting the impact of inflation on spending habits.


Trends in Shopping

Shopping trends showcase a diverse landscape, with online shopping plateauing at 26%. In-store shopping remains a dominant choice, favored by the majority, while a notable 10% of us explore markets for unique gifts. A creative 6% express an intention to craft our own gifts at home.


End of Year celebrations

The celebration of the festive period takes various forms, with a home braai leading the way (47%). The beach, restaurants, and cafes also feature prominently, reflecting the diversity of South African holiday traditions.



Notably, 11% of South Africans express a commitment to the spirit of Ubuntu by donating money or volunteering time to charity.


The year ahead

Looking ahead, our survey indicates mixed sentiments about the coming year. While over half of us express optimism and excitement for 2024, nearly a third acknowledge feelings of anxiety or fear. This mixed outlook reflects the challenges faced by many households in the past year, further emphasising the need for financial prudence amidst a changing economic landscape.


In a time where tightening our belts is not just a financial necessity but also a call for preserving overall wellbeing. We often need to acknowledge the pressing need to address both the emotional and financial facets of our lives. The anticipated decrease in spending and the pervasive impact of the rising cost of living and inflation underscores the importance of a holistic approach to navigating economic realities. As we stand by our valued community, Wonga is committed to providing strategies that prioritise both financial and overall wellbeing during this festive season and beyond.


Understanding the Intersection of Wellbeing and Finances

We recognise that true resilience encompasses more than just financial stability; it extends to emotional and mental wellbeing. The symbiotic relationship between financial health and overall happiness is at the core of our approach to supporting financial decisions and how that affects many of us collectively.


Here is a Top list of Financial and overall Wellbeing Strategies


Mindful Budgeting for Emotional Wellness

Financial stress can take a toll on mental health. We encourage a mindful approach to budgeting that goes beyond numbers. By acknowledging and prioritising emotional needs within a budget, you can foster a sense of control and reduce stress associated with financial decisions.

Emotional needs are the feelings or conditions that we require in order to feel joyful, fulfilled, or safe. When our emotional needs are satisfied and adequately addressed, they keep us in balance and are critical for our financial and general well-being.


These could fall into the following:


  • Saving
  • Being financially independent
  • Anxiety or stress around spending


Financial Meaning

  • Why should we save?
  • What are we saving for?
  • How can my goals be met financially?


Cultivating Financial Mindfulness

The importance of being present and intentional in making financial decisions. Mindfulness can help you develop a healthy relationship with money, fostering a positive mindset and reducing anxiety related to financial uncertainties.


Embracing Saving

Saving is not just a financial strategy; it's an investment in peace of mind. We encourage you to view saving as a source of joy and security. Setting aside money for future goals and emergencies can bring a sense of accomplishment and contribute to an overall sense of wellbeing.


Exploring Passion Projects for Emotional Fulfilment

In addition to financial stability, emotional wellbeing thrives on personal fulfillment. We suggest exploring passion projects or hobbies that bring joy. Engaging in activities that align with personal interests contributes to a positive mindset and enhances overall life satisfaction.


Community Connection for Mutual Support

Building a supportive network fosters a sense of belonging, contributing to emotional resilience in challenging times.


Navigating the New Year with Wellbeing in Mind

As we step into the New Year, Wonga remains steadfast in its commitment to the financial wellbeing of the South African community. By integrating mindful budgeting, financial mindfulness, the joy of saving, personal fulfilment, and community connection into our approach, we aim to empower individuals to navigate the economic landscape with a focus on both financial and emotional resilience.



Read more from our blog