The crisis has also reached the Christ Child: this year there was significantly less cash under Austria’s Christmas trees than two years ago. For the first time, not banknotes, but vouchers were the most common gift – money envelopes are often not used to fulfill wishes, but are urgently needed to cover fixed costs.
On Christmas Eve, 737 million euros in cash was under the Christmas tree. This means that the Christkind is significantly less generous this year than at the Corona peak in 2020: it was still around 927 million euros, almost 200 million and a quarter more than this year. This is evident from a study by Durchblicker. “On average, the recipients receive 275 euros each, of which almost a third goes directly to the trade,” explains Martin Spona, Head of Consumer Finance of the comparison portal. 1,200 people were interviewed, representative of the Austrian population aged 18 and over.
Vouchers the most common gift this year
For the first time, vouchers have replaced monetary gifts as the most common gift. The top bundles this year: vouchers (47 percent), cash (36 percent), books (32 percent) and clothes & shoes (28 percent). Pure cash gifts are becoming increasingly popular: of recipients, every fifth person living in Austria (21 percent) would rather have found only banknotes under the tree, compared to only every eighth two years ago (see chart below).
This was particularly the case in the 18 to 29 age group (27 percent). However, the majority (33 percent) want a combination of money and other donations in 2022. 16 percent of those surveyed decided they didn’t want money for Christmas, and one in five didn’t care.
More than a fifth covers fixed costs with money envelopes
About two-thirds of the Christmas money is spent right away, the rest is saved. For many, the cash envelope is urgently needed: one in five (21 percent) uses it to cover fixed costs, 10 percent to pay outstanding bills. Among the self-employed, there are even 4 in 10 (39 percent) who pay energy bills, rent or insurance with money donations, 17 percent pay outstanding bills.
More than ever, the motive for saving is one’s own financial security – with 65 percent, significantly more people want to put money aside as a nest egg this year than in 2020 (59 percent). Holiday travel is the second most common reason for saving this year (44 percent), followed by smaller or larger purchases (31 and 26 percent, respectively). A large proportion of the donations are invested conservatively and with little risk in a savings account (70 percent) or in the form of a savings account (26 percent).
Salzburgers the most generous
Place of residence and age play a major role in the number of bills: the thickest money envelope was in the state of Salzburg with an average of 395 euros per person; in Niederösterreich and Styria, donors were significantly less generous with 204 and 215 euros respectively. Traditionally, there has been a significant transfer of wealth from old to young. In the age group of 18 to 29 years, the chance of receiving a monetary gift was four times as high as in the generation over 60.
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