Moneywise: Consumers primed to spend more this Christmas season

anadian retailers must be licking their chops in anticipation of this Christmas season as consumers are primed to spend more this year on holiday shopping and festivities than they did last year.

A PWC report on the 2017 holiday outlook has found that more than two thirds of consumers believe the economy will remain steady or perform better over the next six months. Eight of ten consumers in the country plan to spend the same or more this holiday season than they did last year, an average of $1,507 each, slightly higher than their counterparts in the United States.

The majority of consumers’ money will go toward travel for the holidays and gifts with a small amount going to entertainment. They will put family first, spending the most on family members but still making sure they treat themselves in the process.

Forty-two per cent of consumers say they would like to receive gift cards this holiday season, but when it comes to giving 46 per cent are planning on buying physical gifts, the top physical items being apparel, toys, personal electronics and alcohol.

Half of Canadian consumers are expecting prices to be higher this year than last year. Sixty two per cent say price is king when it comes to influencing spending decisions followed by deals and promotions, free shipping, quality merchandise, trust in the retailer/brand and easy return policy.

Other factors like social and environmental responsibility and health and wellness also are likely to attract consumers, especially Gen Z (18-2 year olds) and young millennials.

With a myriad of shopping channels and payment methods available to consumers, holiday shopping is more convenient than ever.

Canadians plan to carry out 62 per cent of their holiday shopping in the store but for the remaining 38 per cent they’ll shop online. Amazon is by far the top choice with 77 per cent of Canadians planning to shop at the world’s largest online retailer.

The proliferation of shopping channel options easily can lead to the temptation to overspend. That’s why it’s so important to keep spending under control and avoid running up debt during the holiday season.

Set a budget for your holiday spending that you can afford, include all things you’ll spend money on over the holidays, and stick to it.

Make a list and you will be far less likely to spend on impulse. Before you shop, list the people you plan to buy gifts for, estimate the cost of each item on your list, do comparative shopping and check that the cost fits your budget.

Where possible pay with cash and pay off your credit card in full when the bill comes in. Also, shop early. If you wait till the last minute stores may not have what you want and you might be more likely to buy on impulse.

Look for sales and discounts throughout the year to spread out the cost of gift-giving throughout the year and look for ways to reduce your travel costs. This can be achieved by purchasing your tickets early — at least by October – or wait until the last minute. Some travel companies offer huge last-minute discounts.

Regardless of your income it’s important to give some thought to how much you’re planning on spending before the holiday season starts and budget accordingly. This should include the amount you’re planning to spend on gifts, entertaining, food, travel and supporting charitable causes.

Having a plan can help control costs and will lead to a less stressful January when the bills start coming in.

Talbot Boggs is a Toronto-based business communications professional who has worked with national news organizations, magazines and corporations in the finance, retail, manufacturing and other industrial sectors.

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