Texas, California Dominate in Holiday Spending


NEW YORK (MainStreet) - How much do you spend on holiday gifts? The answer depends largely on where you live.

A comprehensive study of 2009 holiday spending by our partners at Bundle.com revealed considerable differences in per-capita spending in different parts of the country. In Baltimore, for instance, the average resident spent a total of $454 on gifts. In contrast, residents of Raleigh, N.C., spent $1,269 each, nearly three times as much as their Maryland counterparts.

While the study gathered only city-by-city data, the great state of Texas seems to have the most holiday cheer. The Lone Star state had three cities place in the top 10 for total per-capita spending, including two of the top five (Austin and Plano, for those keeping score at home). The silver medal goes to California, which had four cities (Irvine, San Jose, Bakersfield, Fresno and Riverside) in the top 20. Interestingly, California’s big spenders were a lot more likely to be younger – when looking at only 18-25 year olds, four California cities made the top 15, compared to no Texas cities.

The list was compiled by examining spending data in each of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. during the months of November and December – the traditional holiday shopping season – using millions of credit and debit card purchases, as explained on Bundle’s website. To add more depth to the findings, purchases were divided into three categories: clothing and shoes, electronics and general spending. Purchases were further broken down by age and income class.

It should come as no surprise that economically depressed areas like Cleveland and Detroit kept their belts tight last winter, while Arlington, Va., and Plano, Texas, made the top five in holiday spending. But regional trends materialized as well, most notably the fact that the southern states dominated overall holiday spending, with Virginia, Texas, North Carolina and Arizona appearing frequently in the top 20. By contrast, Washington, D.C., was the sole representative of the northeast in the top 10, and the first Midwestern city to appear on the list was St. Paul, Minn., at number 22 overall.

But more specific buying preferences also varied in interesting ways. In San Jose, Calif. – the unofficial capital of Silicon Valley – the average resident spent more than $100 on electronics during the 2009 shopping season. But in nearby San Francisco, that number drops all the way down to $59, a significant drop-off that far outpaces the difference in overall spending between the two cities.

For a closer look at the top 10, as well as some interesting city-by-city statistical trends, check out our slideshow on the top cities for holiday spending.

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