Americans Set to Waste $19.7 Billion in Gifts This Christmas

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Americans are expected to waste $19.7 billion in gift giving this holiday season despite spending more than 2.75 billion hours trying to figure out their gift ideas according to Giftovus.

An infographic detailing the hidden costs and labor put into gifts in America

Gifting by the Numbers - Image

Gift givers are putting in this work because they want to give something meaningful and create an impact with their gift, but they miss the mark more often than they realize.

Americans are about to begin their annual shopping-spree, and while there will be discounts and sales, they will still be wasting $19.7 billion in "bad" gifts this holiday season according to new data from Giftovus. Despite Americans spending 2.75 billion hours working on gift ideas for people they consider "hard to shop for" they will disappoint in their purchases nearly 20% of the time.

The average American struggles to come up with gift ideas for 6 people on their list and will spend 18 hours working on finding their gifts for those people, according to research collected and analyzed by Giftovus. This struggle will amount to a total cost to American gift-givers of 2.75 billion hours in labor.

Despite their efforts however, 20% of the value of those gifts are lost, according to economists. With holiday spending on gifts expected to reach close to $100 billion, Americans will waste a total of $19.7 billion this holiday season according to Giftovus.

"Gift givers are putting in this work because they want to give something meaningful and create an impact with their gift, but they miss the mark more often than they realize," said Jessica Jessup, co-founder of Giftovus. Jessup believes the waste in the market reflects gift givers desire to surprise the receiver while at the same time needing to know more about them. Said Jessup, "If you want to improve your gifts and save time and money, start by communicating with the social circle of the gift receiver. As a group, you can get to the right gift quickly without ruining the surprise."

Over the course of the entire year, Americans spend 6.96 billion hours on figuring out gifts for "hard to shop for" people according to Giftovus. The total annual cost of "bad" gifts is $49 billion dollars in wasted spending according to Giftovus.

A few tips for avoiding bad gifts for would-be gift-givers this year:

  • Shop with a plan - Find areas of interest for the person and stick to items that fall in those categories to avoid being pulled in on impulse buys that miss the mark.
  • Get advice from their friends - Before finalizing a purchase, talk to the friends of the receiver. As a group, you are more likely to decide on the right gifts.
  • Avoid the gift card trap - Givers tend to spend more on gift cards than they would on an actual gift. There almost certainly is a product or service available for less that will please the receiver.

Giftovus compiled these statistics using multiple data sources, combined with their own market research. To help understand these numbers better, Giftovus has produced an infographic detailing the effort and spending by Americans in gift giving. "Gifting by the Numbers" details the breakdown of the spending and compares it to other options the consumer could choose. The complete list of sources along with an explanation of the calculations can be found at:

About Jessica Jessup

Jessica Jessup is a cancer survivor, an entrepreneur and an engineer. Proud of being a woman in technology, she uses her engineering and math skills to serve the public good and develop solutions that make the world a better place. Ms. Jessup is personally passionate about making every gift one that expresses feeling and an emotional connection. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego and a Master’s of Science in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California, Davis.

About Giftovus

Giftovus, Inc is a social platform for gift givers. Created by Jessica Jessup and her husband Brian, Giftovus allows friends and family to connect and brainstorm gift ideas while validating them against the social circle of the receiver, all without the receiver ever knowing. The result is more accurate gifts, money and time saved and a stronger emotional connection among the givers and receivers. To learn more, visit

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Jessica Jessup

Brian Jessup
since: 05/2011
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