Rising cost of living dampens festive cheer

12 December 2022

New data from Australian Red Cross reveals the surging cost of living pressures will negatively impact one in two people in Australia this festive season.

The annual survey, which measures sentiment in Australia towards the festive season, reveals 54 per cent of respondents agree the rising cost of living and/or their current economic situation may negatively impact their ability to connect or celebrate with loved ones this year.

Only half of those surveyed say they were looking forward to the coming festive season, compared to 60 per cent in 2021. Despite the uncertainty, the majority of respondents (91 per cent) are still hoping to spend key celebration days this year with family and friends.

“After years of interrupted festive celebrations due to COVID, we know many would like to reconnect this festive season, but financial hardship may get in the way,” Red Cross Executive Penny Harrison said.

“We also cannot forget those who are still experiencing the ongoing devastating impacts of flooding which continue to affect so many across eastern and southern Australia. Coupled with the rising cost of living pressures, and resurgence of COVID-19 cases we may see some take a more low-key approach to celebrating.”

Although 63 per cent of people have said they plan to spend less on things like celebrations, travel, and gifts this festive season, many still intend to give back. The top three ways people plan to help others feel more connected were donating goods (36 per cent), money (27 per cent), or checking in with isolated people in their networks (23 per cent).

“The festive season can often bring with it feelings of stress and pressure, particularly for those who may be concerned about their current financial situation. Social circles have also shrunk, with 58 per cent of people surveyed feeling like they have fewer social connections now, compared to 5-10 years ago.

“It’s encouraging to see that despite the cost-of-living pressures impacting many, people are still thinking of ways to connect with others this year.

“There are many ways that you can connect with the community and give back, like volunteering at an organisation like Red Cross, which runs several programs to help support those struggling in the festive season. This year, our volunteers will make more than 2,700 social support calls nationally to people on Christmas day as part of the TeleCross program, a service that runs 365 days a year.

“Even just a quick phone call to a friend or family member or inviting a neighbour to a celebration can mean a lot to those who may be experiencing economic hardship and feeling alone or isolated,” Ms. Harrison concluded.

Key findings include:

  • Nearly half of men (47 per cent) aged 18-29 said they often feel lonely during the festive season
  • Over half of women (53 per cent) aged 18-34 said they feel overwhelmed with commitments during the festive season, and 46 per cent said they felt anxious thinking about the upcoming festive season
  • Nearly half (47 per cent) of males 18-29 said they often feel lonely during the festive season.
  • Those living alone were more likely to feel lonely (43 per cent), while single parents were far more likely than others to feel they have fewer social connections than 5-10 years ago (75 per cent compared to 58 per cent)
  • 46 per cent of people aged 65-74 were most likely to feel very connected during the festive season
  • 42 per cent of people who were unemployed expressed high levels of disconnectedness when it comes to the festive season
  • 67 per cent of women aged 18-29 were most likely to be looking forward more to this year’s festive season, compared to recent years, as are two-parent family households (58 per cent) and full-time workers (57 per cent)
  • Overall, 77 per cent of respondents said they felt connected this year, compared to 70 per cent in 2021

Note to editor: Australian Red Cross commissioned the survey with a representative sample of over 1,000 people from across Australia above 18 years in November 2022.

For media queries contact media@redcross.org.au

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