Holiday | Personal Finance

More Canadians budgeting for the holidays this year

People are looking to spend an average of $583 on gifts, the annual CPA Canada Holiday Spending Survey reveals

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Picture illustration of a shopping cart full of gifts on a festive backgroundAccording to the survey, 45 per cent of respondents said that they will do most of their holiday spending in stores. Only 18 per cent said most of their shopping will be online.

Canadians plan to spend almost 10 per cent less on gifts for the holidays this year compared to the 2018 season (an average of $583 versus $643 last year), according to the annual CPA Canada Holiday Spending Survey*. Fifty-six per cent will set a budget to corral that spending and 39 per cent saved for the holidays throughout the year.

The survey, conducted among a little more than 2,000 respondents across the country, also reveals that most will be staying close to home, with 62 per cent saying they will spend less than $200 on travel. Party and entertainment spending will remain almost identical to 2018, with 61 per cent planning to spend less than $200 and 77 per cent less than $400.

Illustrated graphic showing results of CPA Canada Holiday Spending Survey 2019

“It’s reassuring to see that Canadians have seasonal spending goals in mind,” says Doretta Thompson, CPA Canada’s financial literacy leader. “With more than half of Canadians living paycheque to paycheque, even small financial miscalculations can have significant consequences. The good news is, it’s never too late to start planning and monitoring your spending—it can go a long way to providing some peace of mind.”

Despite the growth of e-commerce, 45 per cent of respondents said that they will do most of their holiday spending in stores. Only 18 per cent said most of their shopping will be online, and 31 per cent said they will split their spend. This is almost exactly the same as the survey reported last year.

“The changes may not be large, but they are going in the right direction, i.e. more people have a budget for their holiday spending and more people are clearly cost-conscious in terms of limiting their spending on travel and entertainment,” says CPA Ann Hebert, AVP corporate taxation, Invesco Canada. “From a financial responsibility point of view, those are all good trends that we like to see. I have found it quite interesting that both last year and this year such a large percentage of people are planning to shop in store versus online. I think it speaks to the spirit of the holidays and wanting to be out there shopping personally for loved ones and being part of the energy that surrounds holiday shopping.” 

Illustrated graphic showing results of CPA Canada Holiday Spending Survey 2019

Canadians are also committed to helping others over the holidays with 72 per cent planning on making charitable donations. Almost half of us (48 per cent) plan to give alternative gifts: 26 per cent are creating homemade presents, 13 per cent are re-gifting or choosing second-hand items, 18 per cent are making charitable donations in someone’s name and 13 per cent are promising to do something for someone.

“I find the large percentage of people who are planning non-traditional gifts very interesting and comforting; I think it speaks to trying to get away from the consumerism and materialism that often surrounds the holiday season and trying to offer gifts that have more meaning and into which you can be more personally invested,” says Hebert. “This kind of innovative approach, if taken year-round, is just the kind of thing that can help improve your financial health, along with being in line with the values of thrift, environmental awareness and caring for others and yourself. There’s no shame in re-gifting!" 

READ THE SURVEY

Dive deeper into the survey’s results and learn more about financial planning for a stress-free holiday. These last-minute budgeting tips will also help with making smarter spending choices. 

*The CPA Canada 2019 Holiday Spending Survey was conducted online by Nielsen between October 17 and 23, 2019 among 2,010 randomly selected Canadian adults.