More than 1.6 million Australians with children aged under 10 will not be giving them a Christmas present this year, according to a new poll.

The finding, which the Salvation Army said represented an "alarming" increase of a million people on last year's figure, came out of research conducted by Roy Morgan which was commissioned by the Army as it launches its annual Christmas Appeal. 

Other findings revealed that 735,000 Australians know 10 or more families who will experience financial hardship or poverty this Christmas, 13.1 million Australians know people who will be lonely this Christmas and 9.5 million Australians believe "paying for Christmas" is getting harder every year.

It also shows that 69 per cent of those surveyed say Australians are losing the true meaning of Christmas and that eight million Australians say the general public isn't doing enough to help Australians in need at Christmas.

The Salvation Army's Major Paul Moulds described the research as "extremely disturbing" and said it was "precisely why we ask the public to dig deep and support our Christmas Appeal".

“We encourage everyone to look out for others in their local community and share the hope and joy of Christmas. We see so much poverty and people without hope at the Salvation Army. It hits home even more at Christmas. Fortunate Australians are getting ready for a big time of year. Less fortunate Australians cannot even afford to buy gifts or even afford a get together.”

Major Moulds said while the Salvation Army in Australia will help more than 300,000 people, serve more than 10,00 meals and distribute more than 500,000 gifts and toys this Christmas, they were struggling to meet demand.

"Additionally, the face of loneliness is changing and is affecting people from all walks of life," he said. "More and more people in our community are facing isolation at Christmas.  This holiday season let’s remember those going it alone. We have the privileged platform to be beacons of hope to others in need. Please donate to our appeal so we can bring hope where it’s needed most this Christmas.”

To make a donation, visit salvos.org.au or call 13 SALVOS (13 72 58).