TORONTO — Love or hate holiday shopping, Canadians are showing little sign of cutting back on spending this holiday season. The vast majority of Canadians (86%) plan to be as generous, or more, this year versus last year, with an anticipated average holiday spend of $570, according to a recent poll by Ebates.ca. Those planning on taking advantage of holiday shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, anticipate getting roughly one-third of their holiday shopping finished on these days (36% on Black Friday and 33% on Cyber Monday).

“Canadians may not be spending less, but they are leveraging pre-holiday sales to save money and stretch their dollar further,” said Belinda Baugniet, director of marketing and resident shopping expert at Ebates.ca. “Our survey indicates that convenience is increasingly important to their shopping habits and decisions.”

2017 shopping trends

Parents are anticipated to be the big spenders, shelling out an average of $710 compared to $489 for those without kids, while dads say they plan to spend more than moms ($803 versus $638). Despite 22% of Canadians who still plan on being last-minute shoppers, more Canadians are shopping early this year, with 31% saying they have most of their holiday shopping done before the winter season starts, up from 28% last year. These shopping keeners are more likely to be under the age of 35 (37%), and/or parents of preschoolers (45%). Those who do at least some shopping online (34 per cent) are also more likely to have their holiday shopping wrapped up early than those who don’t (18%).

Some people dread going anywhere near a mall during the holidays, and they are not alone; Canadians increasingly cite shopping for gifts at the mall as their least favourite part of the holidays (62%), up slightly from last year (59%). The majority (82%) of Canadians are turning to online shopping to avoid the chaos and plan to dedicate 38% of their holiday spend online, versus 36% last year. Accordingly, convenience is cited as the top benefit of online shopping (26%), followed by the ability to find things not available in stores (21%).

Speaking of convenience, a whopping 87% of Canadians say they typically purchase gift cards as holiday gifts and just as many say they are happy when they receive gift cards. In fact, only 21% say they are a little disappointed to get a gift card, and just 36% feel a little guilty giving one. By far, the majority of Canadians feel gift cards simplify their holiday gift shopping (84%) and nearly three quarters (73%) feel they are a thoughtful holiday gift. The most popular type of gift card is for restaurants/coffee shops (49%) followed by multi-purpose ones such as Visa gift cards (38%)

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Smart strategies

Regardless of where they shop, Canadians strategize ways to stretch their holiday shopping budget. Two-thirds redeem loyalty program points to purchase gifts and 59% make a point of shopping with retailers that offer loyalty points, while 47% make a point of shopping with retailers that offer cash back. Other strategies include:

  • 38% use social media to help them find deals (39% in 2016)
  • 31% use social media to recommend products (31% in 2016)
  • 32% use mobile apps or mobile payment (up vs 28% in 2016)
  • 30% use store mobile apps to make purchases (up vs 27% in 2016)
  • 22% use social media to complain about products (22% in 2016)

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