People pass a large Christmas tree as they go shopping on Christmas Eve at a mall in Ottawa, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

People pass a large Christmas tree as they go shopping on Christmas Eve at a mall in Ottawa, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Canadians to spend big on holidays, return to shopping malls, multiple surveys find

Canadians will spend an average of $635 in 2021

Canadians are upbeat heading into the holidays as the return of celebrations, a waning pandemic, robust savings and low unemployment are expected to bolster consumer confidence and spending, according to several new retail surveys released ahead of the busiest shopping season of the year.

Accenture Canada’s 2021 Holiday Shopping Survey released Thursday found “adults with kids who believe in Santa” are expected to spend the most this season, followed by parents in general and Baby Boomers.

“There’s a real generosity of spirit,” said Suzana Colic, a retail consulting leader at Accenture Canada. “More consumers will be spending more this holiday season.”

Canadians will spend an average of $635 in 2021, an increase of $119 or more than 23 per cent compared with 2020, Accenture found.

Deloitte Canada’s 2021 Holiday Retail Outlook suggested spending could be even higher. The report found Canadians are expected to spend an estimated $1,841 on the holidays, an increase of 31 per cent compared with 2020 and eight per cent above 2019.

With larger budgets and declining pandemic concerns, shoppers are expected to make a big return to malls and brick-and-mortar stores, JLL Canada’s 2021 Retail Holiday Survey said.

It found 85 per cent of consumers will return to shopping centres, with curbside pickup remaining popular among “intentional buyers.”

The survey also said Canadians are expected to spend 11 per cent more on gifts, while spending on holiday-related merchandise will jump 15 per cent.

“Canadians continue to plan for a significant increase in their spending,” the JLL report said. “Canadians saved unprecedented amounts during the pandemic, much of which will go to retail, food services, and other service sectors.”

JLL also found that Black Friday remains Canada’s top deal day, with about 28 per cent of shoppers planning to shop during the retail event.

Yet Suzana Colic with Accenture said the importance of Black Friday on the day itself — Nov. 26 this year — is gradually starting to fade as more retailers extend deals throughout the fall.

“Canadians tend to be shopping less on these big retail events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday because the retail landscape these days just offers a lot more discounts and deals year round,” she said.

“There’s less of an emphasis on those two big retail events.”

Still, Accenture research shows about one in four Canadians plan to shop on Black Friday, and one in five will shop on Cyber Monday.

“Canadians are still excited about these two retail events,” Colic said. “But those figures are showing a decreasing trend year over year.”

Meanwhile, a Salesforce survey found many Canadians are worried about issues like pricing, product availability and shipping delays.

Those concerns are prompting shoppers to cross items off their list early, said Rob Garf, vice-president and general manager of retail for Salesforce.

“With inflation and supply chain issues top of mind for shoppers this year, we’re seeing an increased focus on early holiday shopping,” he said in a statement.

Product shortages and supply chain problems have also led some retailers to pull back on discounts, Garf said.

“Consumers may finally lose the game of discount chicken this holiday — with discounts down by five per cent from last season,” he said. “Any discount over 25 per cent is a good one based on what we’re seeing this year — so consumers should act early.”

Research by Google Canada shows Canadians have heeded the call to shop early, with nearly a third of Canadians starting their holiday shopping by Sept. 23.

Canadians are also increasingly looking to buy goods and services from local businesses, with a focus on products that are sustainable.

Google’s 2021 Holiday Insights Report found 38 per cent of Canadian shoppers will buy from small, local businesses, while nearly a quarter will make purchases that are environmentally friendly.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2021.

Retail