To no surprise, the U.S.’s legendary consumer culture hits the roof during the holiday season, with average per-person spending on gifts among the highest levels in the world. Americans aren’t the biggest Christmas spenders, though.
That title belongs to Luxembourgers. The tiny European country, consisting of half a million people, less than 1,000 square miles, and a magic combination of high incomes and low tax rates for citizens, boasts average spending of nearly $800 per person for Christmas gifts, according to The Economist.
U.S. residents aren’t far behind—spending roughly $70 less per person than the folks in Luxembourg. A Consumer Reports poll holds that the average American shopper will spend $707 on gifts this year, up 4% from the 2010 holidays.
What’s noteworthy, though, is that Americans could still be considered the bigger spenders. The Economist’s chart plots average anticipated per-person Christmas spending versus GDP per person, and it’s clear that typical Luxembourgers are better off financially than their counterparts in the U.S.—where GDP rates per person are just over half of that in Luxembourg. The Irish, despite their recent economic struggles, are also among the most generous Christmas givers, coming in just behind the U.S. in average per-person holiday spending.
Who’s the stingiest? Without question, The Economist’s data gives the austere Dutch the title. In the Netherlands, GDP per person is slightly less than the U.S., and roughly on par with Ireland, Switzerland, and Britain—yet Dutch average per-person holiday spending sits at around $200. That’s at least one-third the level of holiday spending in the other countries mentioned.
Come to think of it, a couple hundred bucks would barely cover the costs of gifts the average American child expects to find under the tree. So, if your kid complains about his presents (or lack thereof) on Christmas morning, here’s a snappy reply: “Be happy with what you got—and that you’re not Dutch.”