Canadians Anticipate Record Holiday Spending with a Focus on Savings, According to RCC X Leger Holiday Shopping Survey

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Canadians are projected to spend an unprecedented $898 this holiday season with 88 per cent of them seeking ways to make their budgets go further, according to the 6th annual RCC X Leger Holiday Shopping Survey from the Retail Council of Canada (RCC).

The survey was conducted by Leger. 

Diane J. Brisebois

“Even with prevailing financial concerns on Canadians’ minds, the desire to connect with loved ones and shop and share gifts and experiences remains undeterred,” said Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO, Retail Council of Canada. “Retailers across the nation recognize these needs and will be providing Canadians with unique holiday shopping experiences, bolstered by exceptional products and engaging, value-added promotions.”

Key findings from the report include:

Landsdowne Centre (Image: Colliers)
  • Canadians predict they will spend an average holiday expenditure of $898, a rise from last year’s $782. A substantial 80 per cent of this amount will be allocated for gifting others;
  • Economic apprehensions, including inflation and rising living costs, weigh on many. Accordingly, 88 per cent (vs 83 per cent in 2022) of Canadians are turning to proactive holiday shopping tactics, most notably hunting for sales (52 per cent), preparing in advance (41 per cent), and adhering to a precise budget (40 per cent);
  • To help shoppers decide which retailers to buy from this year, Canadians are prioritizing holiday sales/promotions (66 per cent) and free shipping (55 per cent). They are also looking for in-store exclusives (48 per cent) and distinct online promotions (60 per cent) to provide additional value;
  • In-store shopping will benefit from value bundles (26 per cent) and product sampling (25 per cent). Conversely, online shopping will be amplified by unique product offers and extended return policies, both at 33 per cent;
  • A growing number of Canadians are delaying significant buys, waiting for expected deals around the popular shopping holidays. The survey highlighted anticipated increases in shopping intentions for: Singles Day (10 per cent, up from five per cent in 2022), Black Friday (40 per cent, up from 28 per cent in 2022), Cyber Monday/Week (37 per cent, up from 21 per cent in 2022), and Boxing Day (32 per cent, up from 18 per cent in 2022);
  • Clothing emerges as 2023’s frontrunner, constituting 17 per cent of the holiday budget, followed closely by home entertainment and essentials like food and alcohol grabbing 16 per cent of the planned spend;
  • 45 per cent of shoppers are leaning towards purchasing gift cards for others this season, with a notable 37 per cent of Canadians (up from 32 per cent last year) expressing a preference for receiving gift cards over traditional presents. Dining gift cards top the charts (42 per cent), while big-box retailers come in at 33 per cent and food outlets register at 27 per cent; and
  • Supporting local businesses this holiday has seen an increase in intent, with 82 per cent of Canadians accentuating its importance, a leap from 74 per cent last year.
Black Friday Sales at GameStop in the CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

“Our findings for 2023 are both exciting and instructive. 90 per cent of Canadians plan to shop this holiday season. While they anticipate spending more than ever, 88 per cent are also looking proactively at various ways to get the most value. Even more than in previous years, many are holding off buying and planning to make their bigger purchases around hallmark shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday/Week, in anticipation of grabbing the best deals,” said Brisebois in the report.

“However, as we see in a new section of this report based on Moneris’ historical payment data, planned and actual shopping don’t always align. If shoppers are not finding the deals they are expecting, they wait. This signals an unmatched opportunity for retailers: present the best offers at the right time and guide consumers to confidently make their purchasing decisions throughout the holiday season.

“The pandemic’s impact on reshaping shopping dynamics appears to have now stabilized, with 62 per cent of holiday budgets likely being spent in-store, and 38 per cent online. Today’s consumers are nevertheless seeking both unique experiences and offers to bring them into stores as well as distinct online offers to provide additional value. Tangible benefits, such as special savings, free shipping, hassle-free returns, and genuinely exclusive offers, will be the cornerstone traffic builders this year.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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