West Australians are planning to slash their Christmas present buying as cash-strapped shoppers tighten belts.

A new Westpac survey found West Australians, who last year spent on average $533 on presents, planned to spend just $417 this year.

This fall of 22 per cent means WA present givers are likely to go from the nation's biggest spenders to some of the more thrifty.

West Australians were the biggest spenders on Christmas among the States in the past five years. And it appears lower income earners will cut gift giving the most.

Westpac found people earning less than $40,000 a year will look to cut their Christmas spending more than 40 per cent, and those on more than $90,000 only plan to trim their yuletide gifts by about 10 per cent.

Almost two-thirds of West Australians plan to spend about the same as last Christmas with one-quarter looking to cut back.

Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan said the nation's shoppers had taken a frugal approach to Christmas since the global financial crisis.

While not close to the disastrous 2008 Christmas as the world fell into recession, this year's festive period would be tough for retailers.

"The results show Australian consumers are again taking a cautious approach to the festive season with most looking to spend the same or less than last year and a notable reduction in the average budget for gifts," he said.

But though planning to cut back on Christmas, there might be more to spend after the weekly visit to the petrol station.

For the fifth week, the average price of unleaded in Perth fell to average 138.2¢ a litre and be the cheapest since late August.

Nationally, prices fell 4.5¢ to 139.9¢ a litre.

But CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said events in the Middle East were likely to push prices back up.

"Of course, the savings could be saved, rather than spent," he said. "In addition, the fall in prices looks set to reverse in coming weeks."

He said an increase of about 2¢ a litre within a fortnight was likely.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

More from The West