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Canadians to spend $20 billion on gifts this holiday season

By CO Staff @canadaone |

Twenty-two million Canadians plan to spend an average of $930 on gifts this holiday season, according to Visa Canada's 8th annual gift-giving survey.

This is the highest personal average recorded since the survey began. Survey respondents pointed to an increase in the costs of goods, more people to buy for and having higher incomes as reasons for larger holiday budgets.

While the majority (87%) of respondents plan to purchase their gifts at local stores, almost one quarter (23%) of shoppers plan to purchase holiday gifts online. That's up 5% from 2005, when just 18% reported that they planned to purchase from e-retailers.

"When we looked at the information this year, it was interesting to see a shift in provincial spending averages and more people turning to the Internet," said Tania Freedman, Director of Corporate Communications, Visa Canada. "Provinces that have traditionally spent the most on holiday gifts saw a decline in their holiday budgets, and provinces that shied away from online shopping last year showed an increase in e-commerce spending."

Holiday spending by region

  • Quebeckers expect to spend more, boosting their budgets by 14 percent to $740.
  • British Columbians have eleven percent more money earmarked for gifts and will spend $917 in 2006.
  • In Manitoba and Saskatchewan shoppers, who had reported a 17 percent increase in 2005 over 2004, will spend nine percent more on gifts
    this year.
  • Ontarians are expected out in greater numbers with 90% planning to purchase gifts, an increase of 7% over last year. However, the average amount residents will spend has remained fairly consistent ($1,068 in 2006 versus $1,055 in 2005).
  • Atlantic Canadians, who traditionally have had the most generous holiday shopping budgets for five of the last eight years, report a decline of almost 22 percent ($858 in 2006 versus $1,098 in 2005).
  • Albertans have also reduced their holiday allowance and will spend $1,042 this year compared to $1,081 in 2005.

Holiday gift-giving facts

  • The average Canadian has 10 gift recipients and will purchase 13 presents.
  • Spouses are the hardest people to buy for, particularly for men. While 38 percent of men believe their significant other is the most challenging to shop for, only 17 percent of women would say the same.
  • A quarter of female respondents put mum and dad on top of the "hardest to shop for" list.
  • Men plan to spend more on their spouses -- an average of $257 compared to the $192 spent by women.
  • Canadians typically shop for two children around the holidays, but will spend an average of $25 less ($194 versus $219) per child than in past years.
  • Ontario parents, who still lead the country in the average amount spent per child ($220), and those in the Atlantic region will spend less on their
    children this year.
  • Parents in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI will spend almost $50 less per child.

What are Canadians buying?

Clothing, followed by gift cards & gift certificates, are the most popular gifts for family and friends. Books (61 percent), music items (55 percent) and electronics (53 percent) round out the top items Canadians will unwrap this year.

According to the survey, clothing also tops kids "must have" lists. Eighteen percent of children want to head back to school after the holidays in
the newest duds, while 11 percent would prefer a toy and nine percent have requested electronics. Six percent of children have asked for a gaming system, iPod or MP3 player, and five percent would prefer cold hard cash from Santa.

Online shopping

Regardless of where survey respondents live, all regions of Canada report an increase in the number of people who believe the Internet offers a convenient shopping option.

  • Albertans are the most likely to purchase holiday gifts online, with 31 percent of respondents are expected to turn to e-retailers.
  • Electronics, typically the second or third-most popular gift to buy online, has surged to the top of the e-commerce list in 2006.
  • Clothing is in second place at 25 percent, up from 13 percent in 2005.
  • Books, which were the number one Internet gift purchase last year, have slipped to third spot (22 percent), with CDs (19 percent) and toys (nine percent) rounding out the most popular items.
  • Impulse shoppers don't seem to be turning to the Internet for a last minute dash down an electronic aisle as half of respondents claim to only buy items they planned in advance.
  • The average online shopper will visit 3.7 sites to compare prices before purchasing, but Atlantic Canadians will surf 7.7 sites before deciding on the perfect gift. Albertans will visit the fewest sites (3.1), but will spend the most.

Though more people are shopping online, the average amount Canadians plan to spend this year is down by almost $50 when compared to last year ($236
versus $285 in 2005).

  • Shoppers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan have decreased their online budgets by $58 to $206 and Atlantic Canadians saw a dramatic decrease of $163 in the amount they plan to spend through e-commerce channels.
  • Even though Albertans plan to spend an average of $273 online this year, the highest provincial average, that's $100 less than 2005.
  • British Columbians will also fall back below the $200 mark and spend $97 less than last year's $291.
  • Quebec was the only province to see an increase while Ontario's anticipated online shopping average remained stable when compared to 2005.

Source: Visa Canada

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