Poll shows holiday shoppers trimming their spending on gifts

TORONTO – A survey on holiday spending suggests that Canadian shoppers may be more likely to channel their inner Scrooge this year.

The Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) survey shows Canadians polled expected to spend an average of $1,517 — down from $1,810 in 2013, and the lowest estimate in three years.

Most of that total will be spend on gifts ($441) and travel ($677). Last year, an average of $678 was spent of gifts and $689 on travel.

The online poll indicated $211 was earmarked for entertaining and $79 on other holiday expenses, such as decorations.

Those who live in Alberta plan to spend the most this holiday season, with an expected $1,947, compared with Quebecers who are anticipating on spending the least with $1,322.

Those surveyed say cost cutting is behind the reduced holiday spending cheer.

“With slower job growth this year, and many new jobs being part-time positions, Canadians are facing weaker income growth heading into the holiday season,” said Sal Guatieri, a senior economist with BMO Capital Markets. “Recent stock market volatility and elevated household debt could also dampen sales.”

Eleven per cent of those surveyed say they anticipate going into debt due to their holiday spending.

Another holiday spending report released Thursday had slightly different findings.

The study by consulting firm Accenture found that only 19 per cent of Canadians surveyed say they expect to spend less this holiday.

Sixty per cent say they anticipate on spending the same amount, while 21 per cent say they plan on spending more.

The average amount shoppers say they’ll be spending on gifts this year is $685.35.

Of those spending more, 42 per cent say they’ll spend $250 extra this year.

About a quarter of those who plan on spending more attribute it to more discretionary income, while 16 per cent say it’s because they have greater job security.

Those who are not shelling out as much this holiday season say it’s due to having less savings (47 per cent), increased living expenses (40 per cent) or less discretionary income (38 per cent).

The Accenture study comprised findings following an online poll of 1,200 Canadian adults in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal in September. The BMO study used survey results from Pollara of 1,005 Canadian adults between Oct. 14 and Oct. 16.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

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