According to the study, Aussies are a generous bunch, with 85% of people getting more joy from giving gifts than receiving them.

In news that will spark discussion across Australian households, women are more generous towards their spouses or partners than men, spending $454 annually and $419 respectively.

However, men are spending $22 more per month on gifts than women in general.

The survey of 1,000 Australians found adults spend an average of $100 a month on buying gifts, with a consistently strong preference for cash or gift cards rather than tangible items.

According to the results, the average Australian spends the following on gifts each year:

  • $437 for our spouse or partner
  • $361 for our own child
  • $201 per parent
  • $115 for our pet

Australians are arguably generous to a fault, with the research revealing 73% of the almost $20 billion spent on gifts is unplanned.

But FPA CEO Dante De Gori said this spontaneous spending needs to be accounted for in our everyday budgets.

“There’s literally billions of dollars of household spend that is simply not budgeted for by nearly three in four Australians across genders, generations and geographies,” Mr De Gori said.

“That’s an obvious opportunity to increase our nation’s financial literacy and awareness of the benefits of budgeting, financial planning, and giving in a way that brings joy without debt or regret.”

Other key findings

  • Cash and gift cards are Australia’s new go-to gifts. Most Australians prefer the convenience and usefulness of receiving cash over tangible gifts. Baby Boomers most prefer giving cash: 53% prefer to give cash for weddings, 41% prefer to give cash at Christmas, and 38% prefer to give cash for an adult birthday.
  • Re-use, re-cycle, re-gift: Two in five Australians (41%) have re-gifted a gift to another person, with females more likely to re-gift (48% have done so compared to 35% of males).
  • Budget: Nearly three in four Australians (73%) do not have a budget allocation for gifts. Men are less likely to have a budget for gifts than women: only 24% of men have a gift-giving budget compared to 31% of women.
  • Christmas: Australians spend an average of $93 on a significant Christmas gift. Those with young families spend more, with an average of $117 on a significant Christmas gift.

NAB reports bleak retail outlook

Despite the FPA’s research of lavish gifting, NAB suggests the ABS retail trade measure will be essentially flat in July, up 0.1% from June.

The bank reports the third quarter of 2019 has seen little sign of an upturn, despite July’s tax rebates.

On a yearly basis, data showed department stores, clothing and footwear going backwards, while household goods are barely in positive territory.

NAB chief economist Alan Oster said there’s little to celebrate in the figures.

“While there was an uptick in tax return activity in July – clearly visible in our internal data – it appears that Australian consumers have largely declined to spend it,” Mr Oster said.

“During the Global Financial Crisis, around half of the cash handouts were spent upfront, but the preliminary signs from the recent round of tax cuts point to a substantially lower share being spent so far.

“That said, many are yet to submit their tax return, although we remain unconvinced that they will spend their tax return much differently than those who have already received their return.”

Mr Oster said NAB expects the RBA to cut rates at least once more this year.