Holiday shoppers in Canada are more confident about their finances than ever, with a majority saying they will spend more this year than they did last, according to an Abacus Data report released in the weekend run-up to the beginning of the busy January sales.
Just over half of respondents (56%) say they will spend more this year than they did last year, compared with 19% who said they will spend less. Nine per cent said they don’t know. Abacus Data executive vice-president Shachi Kurl said that this is the highest percentage of polled people indicating they plan to spend more than they did last year in almost a decade.
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The poll was also noteworthy for what it didn’t include. While Canadians typically tell Abacus that they expect to spend less on holiday gifts, less than one-in-five said they would be shopping less.
“What we found was this consumers, despite a somewhat bumpy ride last year, were coming out confident and ready to spend, and shopping may be what it takes to close the deal,” Kurl said.
Abacus also found that Canadian consumers are certainly in the mood to spend, given they were willing to spend more last year. But it’s not just confidence driving purchases. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said they were comfortable or very comfortable making a larger, more expensive holiday purchase this year.
The respondents also said they expected to follow through on their holiday plans in 2019. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents said they would spend the same amount as they did in 2018, either spending more or spending less. This is significantly higher than the 17% who said they would spend less than last year, suggesting more Canadians than usual will spend more.
While the spending projections reflect the opinions of Canadians overall, the holiday spending forecasts were broken down in more detail by gender. Women are expected to spend more this year, with 80% planning to spend more money than they did last year, while just 49% of men expect to increase their spending.
Men are also more likely to partake in the four-day long outdoor festivities that began in Toronto on Saturday: Women are expected to spend an average of $1,305 on this season’s festivities, whereas men are expected to spend $1,439.
Yet despite what the numbers suggest about Canadian spending plans for the coming year, Abacus found that Canadians are again having more difficulty compared with last year.
While the majority of Canadians (64%) said they will find it easier to pay off their holiday shopping this year than they did last year, the vast majority of consumers (79%) still say they will pay more than their credit card limit, something that has been reported for about the past 10 years.
In any case, Abacus found that Canadians are in no rush to pay off the credit card balances or larger purchases they made during the holiday season: while the greatest number of Canadians (51%) say they’ll be happy to pay for their 2018 holidays in just a week or two, nearly as many are happy to pay for their holiday purchases in a month (38%) or two (34%).
The longest Canadians take to pay off their holiday spending is 6.5 months, with a little over one-third (33%) saying they’ll take nearly five months to pay off the bills.
This year’s online survey was conducted between 29 October and 1 November of 2018 and polled 2,469 Canadians. The results are considered accurate to within plus or minus 1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
• Follow Rahul Mahajan on Twitter at @rahul.mc