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The gender gap over who controls holiday spending

So much of the holidays are about specific annual traditions: eating a special meal or attending a once-a-year family reunion. But when it comes to who’s in charge of the holiday shopping, men and women maintain the same divergent views about who controls the purse strings that they hold throughout the year.

More than two in three women, or 68 percent, say they or another female is primarily responsible for their household’s holiday shopping. However, just 30 percent of men believe a women is in charge, according to a survey by, a site that helps consumers select credit cards.

That divide is consistent when it comes to taking credit for purchasing items the family needs throughout the year. Seventy percent of women said they’re in charge of grocery shopping, while 73 percent said they buy the family’s clothes and shoes. In contrast, only 31 percent of men agree that women do most of the food shopping, while a mere 23 percent believe that a female in the household is in charge of keeping the family clothed. 

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“Clearly, there are some conversations that need to be had about what’s really happening with shopping,” said Matt Schulz,’s senior industry analyst. He said it was interesting that in 2016 so much of the shopping seemed to be split down traditional gender lines.

Women don’t think they take as much control of other types of shopping, but there’s still a huge gulf between the sexes as to who deserves the bulk of the credit for making the purchasing decision. For example, 46 percent of women say a female decides what movie, concert or sports tickets to buy, while only 7 percent of men concur. Females are responsible for deciding where to go to eat, according to 44 percent of women surveyed, a belief only 9 percent of men share.

Males believe they really step up to the plate when it comes to sharing holiday shopping responsibilities in a way they don’t during the rest of the year. Slightly more four in 10 men, or 41 percent, say they share holiday shopping equally with women though only 25 percent of females agreed.

But men aren’t taking as much credit for grocery shopping, with only 33 percent saying they share it equally. Still, only 23 percent of women see it that way.

In other spending areas -- like planning vacations or buying big-ticket items -- there was more agreement. About half of the women and half the men polled said they share responsibility.

“Generally speaking, women have more power when it comes to making purchases in the household,” said Shultz. “I do think there is a good chance that men are overstating their influence in this survey. Maybe they are having allusions of grandeur.“

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