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Canadians plan to spend less on Christmas this yearTuesday, October 28, 2014 > 10:16:43
Field Agent Canada survey shows spending expected to drop by 7.2 per cent across the country
Don’t expect as much under the Christmas tree this year.
A new holiday spending study found Canadians are tightening the purse strings with plans to reel in spending this season by 7.2 per cent on Christmas presents, decorations and food.
Average holiday spending across Canada is expected to be $885 per person on everything from gifts to turkey and wine this year compared to the $953 spent in 2013, says the survey by Field Agent Canada.
“It appears that Canadians are planning a more frugal celebration this Christmas,” said the company’s general manager Jeff Doucette.
“Retailers should expect a softer market this Christmas and we should all be expecting less expensive gifts under the tree,” he noted.
In fact every province except Saskatchewan – where residents intend to spend 11.1 per cent more than last year – reported lower planned purchases this season, says the survey entitled Christmas 2014: An exercise in frugality
Though they plan to spend more than last year, Saskatchewan also showed the second-lowest average planned spending at $753 for Christmas 2014, the report says.
Overall, the lowest planned spending was reported by residents of Quebec at $585, which is 35 per cent less than the national average.
“Not only do Quebec residents plan to spend the least this year, they are also reporting the largest decline in holiday spending, down 13.4 per cent,” noted Doucette.
When looking at the provinces that intend to spend the most on Christmas items, the highest averages were in Newfoundland at $1,545, Nova Scotia at $1,009 and Alberta at $964.
“But even the top spending provinces are planning to spend less this year,” he said.
The survey was done via the Field Agent smart phone app, which pays consumers to collect information while they shop. Users also serve as a consumer panel of sorts by which the firm can gauge spending habits for its retailer clients, Doucette explained.
A total of 2,163 responses were gathered between Oct. 19 and 21 in which they were asked to provide estimates of their spending on holiday items in 2013 along with their planned purchases this year.
Respondents were not asked for reasons why they will spend less this year, but Doucette points to overall market sentiment recently that has seen topsy-turvy stock markets and the plunging oil price, which have instilled worry among consumers. The results also reflect Canadian retail sales reports in recent months, which have been flat or in decline, he noted.
“I would be concerned as a retailer to see such a consistent decline, with the exception of Saskatchewan, right across the country,” he said.
“People are trying to cut back or hold the line, which means there are less dollars out there to chase this year in a marketplace that is already very competitive,” Doucette noted.
And it seems to be starting earlier every year, he said.
“We’re not even done with Halloween and already we’re seeing Christmas items on the shelves,” he said.
Doucette said he finds it “troubling” that even big online retailers like Amazon are feeling the pinch lately. The Seattle-based company reported last week a third quarter net loss of $437 million compared to a net loss of $41 million in the same period last year.
But there is still time for the overall economy and market mood to change from now until Christmas, he said, describing consumer spending at this time of year as “part rational and part emotional.”