San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Christmas bonus

Most Costa Rica workers plan to save their Christmas bonus: survey

While Christmas is the shopping season par excellence, most workers in Costa Rica say they will leave their Christmas bonus, or aguinaldo, in their bank account, according to results of a survey released by consulting firm Unimer.

Private sector employers began distributing year-end bonuses this week while public employees will receive them on Thursday. All employers are required by law to distribute Christmas bonuses by Dec. 20.

Unimer asked Ticos how they planned to spend their bonus, and 44 percent responded that they will keep it in the bank. In descending order, people also said they would spend it on gifts, to pay off debt, pay taxes and travel.

Paying debts is a priority among men over 25 and among those with higher education levels. The priority for women aged 18 to 34 and with college education is to save the money.

Personal items, mostly clothes, and tech gadgets are the preferred gifts among those who said they plan to spend their bonuses on presents. The Christmas shopping list also includes, in descending order: shoes, perfume, books, jewelry and home appliances.

Preferences for gifts that people hope to receive are similar. Women say they mostly expect to receive personal items: clothes, shoes and perfume, while men say their favorite gifts are tech toys, mainly digital cameras, smartphones, laptops, tablets and flat-screen TVs.

Despite the increase in online shopping, stores at malls are the preferred option for 50 percent of those surveyed. Internet shopping is second at 30 percent, followed by stand-alone stores, department stores, toy stores and supermarkets.

Unimer found Christmas shopping behavior this year is mainly influenced by people’s perception of the country’s economic situation. Asked how they compared their plans to spend their Christmas bonus in 2014 with spending plans for this year, only 30 percent said they expect to spend more, while 70 percent said they definitely will spend less.

For 62 percent of respondents, the country’s economic situation is worse than last year’s; 34 percent think it is the same, while only 4 percent believe it is better.

Unimer conducted its survey online among 865 adults from the Greater Metropolitan Area, which includes San José and parts of Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago. Results have a margin of error of 3.3 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent.

Recommended: Don’t let thieves steal your Christmas bonus!

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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Ken Morris

Interesting that two-to-one Ticos say the economic situation is worse this year than last, when among other indicators the amount of the aguinaldos shows that Ticos have earned a slight bit more money in 2015 than they made in 2014.

Maybe Ticos are expressing a rational fear of their economic futures. However, it would seem more likely that they have been so bombarded by dour economic news by the press that they believe the situation is worse than it is.

Either way, let’s hope that Ticos pay off their credit cards and then refuse to use them until the banks lower the interest rates to a reasonable level. We do know that high-interest credit card debt has exploded this year, even though unemployment is slightly down and wages slightly up. Maybe credit card debt is making them feel that the economy is lousy? (If so, they’d be right about this.)

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