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America in Crisis

Floridians apprehensive as holidays approach

About 40% of Floridians said they feel they are worse off financially than last year.

COVID-19 and financial matters are haunting nearly half of Floridians as the holidays approach, a new survey shows.

In a statewide survey released by MoneyWise Florida, about 40% of Floridians said they feel they are worse off financially than before, with money being one of their top concerns heading into the New Year.

The survey was conducted Nov. 17, and shows that for many Floridians, this holiday season will include either no family gatherings or much smaller ones. Respondents expect to give fewer gifts, which is causing stress. The top three worries among Floridians heading into the new year include getting COVID-19 (53%), financial matters (44%) and not seeing family members (40%.)

Those worries are mirrored in respondents’ reasons for holiday stress, which include not being able to spend it with family (44%), family time causing someone to get sick (40%) and not having enough money for gifts (35%.)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought enormous financial challenges to millions of Florida families and businesses,” said Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis in a news release. “We must work together to provide important guidance on ways Floridians can navigate this prolonged period of financial uncertainty.”

The survey illustrated mixed feeling many are feeling this holiday season. While nearly two-thirds of respondents, 64%, are looking forward to the holidays, more than six in 10, 63%, feel apprehensive and worried.

With such apprehension surrounding family gatherings, 63% of respondents said they are planning on staying home for the holidays, with a large majority, 76%, planning to spend them alone, with people in their household or only a few extended family members.

People are cutting back, too. Slightly more than half of respondents, 54%, said they plan to spend less on gifts this year — nearly 1 in 5, 19%, said they won’t be purchasing any gifts this year. Almost two-thirds of respondents, 64%, said they would spend $500 or less on gifts this year.

Online is the name of the game for those who are spending, with 43% of those purchasing gifts planning to do more shopping online this year than last year. 

“Since the pandemic began, I have been advocating for Floridians by raising awareness and encouraging Legislators to take action to protect our small businesses to ensure Florida’s economy gets back on its feet,” Patronis said. “The results of this survey confirm the need to continue to provide Floridians with comprehensive resources and tools to help them navigate financial challenges. I have no doubt that through it all, Florida families and businesses are resilient, and we are in this together.”

MoneyWise Florida is a statewide financial education initiative. The survey was conducted by a coalition of organizations representing financial, insurance and consumer interests. 

Written By

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at kelly@floridapolitics.com.

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