The nice list
If you live in Flower Mound, you may be making a holiday shopping list as long as a Christmas tree garland and checking it more than twice.
The Dallas-Fort Worth city wraps up the No. 1 spot on a new national list of U.S. cities with the fattest holiday budgets, published by personal finance website WalletHub.
Flower Mound boasts the most Santa-friendly budget among all the cities: $3,427. Clearly, residents are on Santa's nice list, because their budgets keep growing. The city ranked second last year ($2,973) and third in 2019 ($2,937).
“To help consumers avoid post-holiday regret, WalletHub calculated the maximum holiday budget for each of 570 U.S. cities using five key characteristics of the population, such as income, age, and savings-to-monthly expenses ratio,” the website says.
Flower Mound's lucrative new distinction comes on the heels of another report — by Money magazine, no less — that named the city to the No. 4 spot on its recent list of the 50 best places to live in the U.S. No wonder Macy's decided to put one of its coveted new stores there.
“Locals say Flower Mound still has a small-town feel, but it’s growing quickly," Money said in its report. "The city saw the highest job growth of any place on our list over the last five years. It also comes in second for the highest projected job growth over the next five, just after Round Rock down near Austin."
Flower Mound is home to about 82,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The average household income is $160,973, compared to the national average household income of $79,900.
Seven other DFW cities unwrap rankings in the top 100:
- Allen, No. 12, $2,688.
- Frisco, No. 30, $2,133.
- Plano, No. 33, $2,044.
- Richardson, No. 43, $1,857.
- Carrollton, No. 56, $1,698.
- North Richland Hills, No. 76, $1,544.
- Irving, No. 89, $1,439.
But no other local city cracks the top 10 — that belongs to Flower Mound and Flower Mound alone. By the way, the two biggest cities in North Texas are on the Scrooge-y side: Fort Worth appears at No. 257 ($920), and Dallas ranks 365th ($787).
Elsewhere in Texas:
Three Houston suburbs rank among the 10 U.S. cities with the biggest holiday budgets:
- The Woodlands, No. 3, $3,073.
- Sugar Land, No. 4, $3,023.
- League City, No. 10, $2,778.
Outside the top 10, Pearland ranks 13th ($2,669) and Missouri City appears at No. 80 ($1,499), while Houston ranks 372nd ($783).
In the Austin area, the holiday budgets are more on the lean side, like Santa on a diet:
- Cedar Park, No. 48, $1,770.
- Round Rock, No. 134, $1,200.
- Austin, No. 188, $1,049.
Meanwhile, the San Antonio area’s two entrants on the list feel like they’ve earned lumps of coal:
- New Braunfels, No. 196, $1,034.
- San Antonio, No. 371, $783.
“In general, consumers are ready to spend and to have social experiences both within and outside the home," Barbara Stewart, interim chair of the University of Houston’s Department of Human Development and Consumer Sciences, tells WalletHub. "This spurs consumption in multiple categories, including food, décor, apparel, and gifts. This trend toward increased spending is mitigated by lingering COVID health concerns, including reticence to shop in physical stores, gather in groups, and travel.”
The National Retail Federation predicts a record-shattering holiday season for retail sales, growing between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. Meanwhile, professional services firm Deloitte envisions a 7 percent to 9 percent spike in holiday spending this year versus last year. Commercial real estate services provider CBRE pegs the projected increase at 8.4 percent.
“The outlook for the holiday season looks very bright,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation. “The unusual and beneficial position we find ourselves in is that households have increased spending vigorously throughout most of 2021 and remain with plenty of holiday purchasing power.”