SURVEY: Canadians planning more celebrations and intend to spend the same as last year despite financial challenges - Retail Council of Canada
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SURVEY: Canadians planning more celebrations and intend to spend the same as last year despite financial challenges

October 24, 2022

Shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day continues to be important to Canadians as they are looking for the best deals throughout the holiday season.

Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) 5th annual RCC X Leger Holiday Shopping Survey of over 2,500 Canadians from coast-to-coast highlights that consumers are eager to return to their holiday traditions but when, how, and who they will buy for, is changing.

The current financial strains are being felt by 6 in 10 Canadians yet overall, Canadians plan to spend about the same amount, $790, as they anticipated to spend in 2021.

While 8 in 10 consumers intend to buy gifts for others this year, 62% say their gift giving habits have changed over the years, with the main reason being that they are looking to buy more meaningful gifts for fewer people. 6 in 10 consumers will look for more deals this year than in previous years, and many will consider a wider assortment of retailers to ensure they find the best gifts at the best prices. While generally there has also been a noticeable shift in consumers saying they want to start shopping before November, in 2022 consumers are holding back a bit (36% in 2022 vs 42% in 2021), likely in hopes of finding even better deals.

6 in 10 consumers surveyed also felt that holiday shopping during the pandemic lost some of its excitement. Interestingly 6 in 10 will also be searching in-store this year (more-so than last year) in hopes of reigniting the holiday shopping festiveness they valued prior to the pandemic. Black Friday and Cyber Monday will continue to be busy both in-store and online with consumers looking for more deals and to get back into the holiday spirit.  

In-person holiday celebrations this year are anticipated to make a big comeback and Canadians are anticipating spending the biggest portion of their holiday budgets with food & beverage retailers and food service providers and restaurants. Consumers are considering a wider range of retailers to shop from this year for their holiday gifts, with nearly half of Canadians saying they will also shop at various discount retailers this holiday season.

This year’s survey added applied analytics to weigh stated behaviours with what will likely actually impact consumer behaviours. While concerns over supply chain delays and potential disruption from new waves of COVID still linger, Leger’s advanced analytics identified that retailers with lower prices, discounts/special offers, and free shipping will appeal to 81% of consumers. 

This year’s deeper analytics also looked at consumer behaviour profiling and identified five distinct holiday shopping consumer segments: The Online Holiday Shopper (24%), The Neutral Holiday Shopper (23%), The Excited Holiday Shopper (19%), The Festive Holiday Shopper (19%), and The Disenchanted Holiday Shopper (15%). These detailed profiles include specifics on how these consumers differ regarding planned holiday spend, method of purchase, when they plan to shop, how to best communicate with them, the importance of choosing a local retailer, their key holiday shopping attitudes and behaviours, as well as their top retail shopping categories for this season. This information is included in the full survey that is available exclusively to RCC members.

“Canadians are getting back to more in-person get-togethers and more in-store shopping this holiday season. They are looking to recapture that ‘festive holiday spirit’. The challenges of the last few years and worries over finances are very present, but Canadians are largely determined not to let this affect their celebrations this year,” said Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO, Retail Council of Canada. “Retailers across the country are meeting consumers’ needs with unique holiday shopping experiences and amazing products and promotions.

RCC will be hosting an online Retail Holiday Shopping Forum on November 8, 2022 1-3pm ET where Leger will discuss the key findings of this survey and how retailers can apply the findings to adjust their 2022 holiday plans for a strong end to the year. Google Canada and Showcase will also share their latest learnings and recommendations.  This event FREE to RCC Members and open to non-members.

QUICK FACTS:

  • More Canadians are planning to take advantage of deals, holiday sales, and promotions and have started to shop earlier to take full advantage of the best deals and pricing.
    • 6 in 10 will look for more deals than in previous years.
    • Getting the best deals generally is driving an earlier planned start to holiday shopping but in 2022, consumers are still shopping around a bit more before buying vs 2021 (36% in 2022 vs 42% in 2021 vs 33% in 2020 vs 26% in 2019).
    • November will remain the busiest shopping month.
      • 35% of consumers plan to begin their 2022 holiday shopping in November.
    • 28% plan to shop on Black Friday, 21% plan to shop on Cyber Monday/Cyber Week, and 18% plan to shop on Boxing Day.
  • Holiday spending intentions are the same as last year
    • Canadians nationally are planning to spend $790 (vs $792 in 2021).
  • The split in spending between in-store shopping and online will continue to follow the pattern that was established during the pandemic, emphasizing once again the importance for retailers to provide consumers with seamless experiences across their selling channels.
  • 63% in 2022 (vs 63% in 2021 vs 58% in 2020) of total purchases are expected to be in-store this year and 37% in 2022 (vs 37% in 2021 vs 42 % in 2020) will be online.
      • Pre-pandemic in 2019, 72% of total purchases were planned to be in-store and 28% online.
  • Supporting local retailers continues to be important to Canadians.
    • 74% feel it is important to shop locally, and 42% plan to shop at local retailers this year.
  • Product categories that Canadians will spend the most on have shifted with the anticipation of more in-person gatherings. Food, beverage and food service retailers and restaurants are making the most gains.  
    • Top categories are food, alcohol, candies, or sweets for entertaining (16% vs 12% in 2021), clothing (16% vs 16% in 2021), food & beverage services (11% vs 7% in 2021) and toys (10% vs 10% in 2021).

OTHER FINDINGS OF INTEREST:

  • Stated top concerns for holiday shopping this year are cost of living/ inflation (26%), products availability (22%), and COVID-19 related/safety issues (20%).
  • However, this year Leger’s applied advanced analytics analysis suggest that 81% consumers will be drawn to a combination of lower prices and general discounts (52%), free shipping (18%), and holiday specific sales and promotions (11%).
  • 44% of Canadians will be looking to purchase gift cards this season, of whom 15% say they will spend more on gift cards than they did last year.
  • The mix of retailers where consumers intend to shop will be even broader in 2022 and 47% of Canadians will also shop at various discount retailers this holiday season. Most significant differences vs previous years include:
    • Big box 68% in 2022 (vs 53% in 2021 vs 46% in 2020), food & beverage retailers 56% in 2022 (vs. 35% in 2021, 42% in 2020), clothing 54% in 2022 (vs 46% in 2021 vs 36% in 2020), food and beverage services 48% in 2022 (vs 35% in 2021 vs42% in 2020), toys and games 38% in 2022 (vs 34% in 2021 vs 29% in 2020), department stores 37% in 2021 (vs 30% in 2021  vs 25% in 2020), electronics 33% in 2022 vs 29% in 2021 vs 24% in 2020), sporting, hobby and music 28% in 2022 (vs 24% vs 19% in 2020) and home furnishing 14% in 2022 vs 7% in 2021 vs 6% in 2020).

MOST SIGNIFICANT REGIONAL DIFFERENCES:

QUEBEC

  • Like previous years, Quebecers are planning on spending less than the rest of the Canada this holiday shopping season at $588 vs the national average of $790.
  • Quebecers are more likely to be looking forward to the festive feeling this year, and less concerned about COVID and other stressors. Quebecers are more likely to say they are looking forward to shopping feeling more festive this year (47% vs 42% national average). Quebecers are feeling less stressed about their holiday shopping (30% vs 42% national average). Quebecers are more likely to believe the celebration will be bigger than last year (41% vs 36% national average).
  • Quebecers are more likely to purchase gifts for themselves this holiday season (26% vs 21% national average).
  • While shopping local is still important to Quebecers, it is not as important to them as it is to the rest of Canada (69% vs 74% national average).
  • Quebecers are less concerned about future waves of COVID affecting their holiday plans than the rest of Canada (46% vs 52% national average).

ONTARIO

  • Ontarians are estimating that they will spend $873 this holiday season vs the national average of $790.
  • Ontarians have lingering concerns about COVID as they are more likely to wear a mask when holiday shopping if it is too crowded (61% vs Quebec 45%, national 57%).
  • While Ontarians are still more concerned about COVID, they are more likely to be wanting to get back into stores and browse for holiday gift ideas than in other provinces (59% vs 42% in Quebec, national 56%).

ALTANTIC

  • Atlantic Canadians anticipate spending over the national average ($874 vs $790 national average) even though they are most likely to have a firm budget (72% vs 62% nationally), more likely to shop at various discount retailers (52% vs 47% national) and are more concerned about inflation and the cost of living affecting their upcoming holiday shopping season (34% vs national 26%).
  • Those in Atlantic Canada are less likely to believe that the holiday celebration this year will be bigger than last (27% vs national 36%).
  • Atlantic Canadians are more likely to deal with out-of-stock products by starting their shopping early (45% vs national 32%).

MANITOBA/ SASKATCHEWAN 

  • Those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are anticipating spending less than the national average this holiday season ($608 vs $790 national average).

ALBERTA

  • Albertans anticipate spending more than the national average this holiday ($856 vs $790 national average).

BRITISH COLUMBIA

  • British Columbians are anticipating spending more than the national average this holiday season ($887 vs $790 national average). They are also most likely to have a loose budget or no budget at all (46% vs 38% nationally).

About the RCC X Leger Holiday Shopping Survey

 The comprehensive 147-page survey was conducted for Retail Council of Canada by Leger is the 5th annual study that explores Canadians’ behaviours and attitudes towards the upcoming holiday shopping season. The report also reviews how these planned shopping behaviours vary by category and region across the country. While this year’s study is similar to previous years’ surveys, new questions were added to dig deeper to better understand how consumers make gift buying decisions, and identify distinct holiday shopping consumer profiles. The survey was conducted online between August 9, 2022 and August 23, 2022 in both English and French with a sample size of 2,505 and a nationally representative sample to the Canadian population of 18+. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The full survey is available to RCC Members from the Retail Council of Canada website.

Media interested in seeing the full study should contact Michelle Michelle Wasylyshen at mwasylyshen@retailcouncil.org

 

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About Retail Council of Canada

Retail is Canada’s largest private-sector employer with over 2 million Canadians working in our industry. The sector annually generates over $78 billion in total compensation. Core retail sales (excluding vehicles and gasoline) were over $433B in 2021. Retail Council of Canada (RCC) members represent more than two-thirds of core retail sales in the country. RCC is a not-for-profit industry-funded association that represents small, medium, and large retail businesses in every community across the country. As the Voice of Retail™ in Canada, we proudly represent more than 45,000 storefronts in all retail formats, including department, grocery, specialty, discount, independent retailers, and online merchants. www.retailcouncil.org.

For more information or to schedule media interviews, contact:
Michelle Wasylyshen at mwasylyshen@retailcouncil.org

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