Visa Canada

Visa Canada

December 19, 2007 05:00 ET

Canadian Shoppers Expect to Spend $1,386 Each on Holiday Entertainment and Gifts

Visa Canada gift-giving survey results reveal consumer trends in holiday shopping, workplace revelry and charitable giving

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 19, 2007) - With Canadians projected to spend $23 billion this holiday season, you won't find Scrooge lurking around Canadian shopping malls this December. Results from Visa Canada's annual gift-giving survey reveal that Canadian shoppers plan to spend an average of $1,061 per person on holiday gifts(i) - a 14 percent increase from 2006 and the highest personal spend recorded in the survey's nine year history.

Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
spend per
person on
gifts(i)(ii) $833 $741 $816 $809 $805 $887 $918 $930 $1,061
(i) on all forms of payment
(ii) among those who shop for the holidays

Conducted by Omnitel, the national telephone survey found almost one in four Canadian shoppers (23 percent) expect to spend more than $1,200 each on gifts this holiday season. While the average spend has increased, the number of recipients on holiday shopping lists has declined 12 percent to 11.9 gifts this year, down from 13.3 gifts in 2006.

"It seems Canadian shoppers are valuing quality over quantity this holiday season, as they anticipate spending more money yet purchasing fewer gifts," said Tania Freedman, Director of Corporate Communications, Visa Canada. "It's also interesting to observe that holiday shoppers plan to spend an average of $325 on seasonal entertaining, which means Canadians expect to spend an estimated $1,386 per person on gifts and entertaining combined this holiday."

Regional highlights

According to survey results, Ontarians can no longer claim to be Canada's biggest spenders on holiday gifts this season. Albertans plan to spend the most per person ($1,252) - 20 percent more than they did last year. Following closely are British Columbians ($1,204) and Atlantic Canadians ($1,128). These East and West Coast shoppers may be spending less than Albertans, but they tie for the biggest year-over-year regional increase (30 percent each) for expected spend on gifts. Ontarians will spend $1,102 each, slightly above the national average. Manitoba and Saskatchewan shoppers aren't sitting idly by this December: they're projected to spend $1,008 on holiday shopping. And although they expect to spend less on gifts ($654 per person) compared to the national average, Quebecers plan to spend the most on holiday entertaining ($384) - 18 percent more than the national average of $325. Regardless of province, Canadians from coast to coast concur that crowds (59 percent) and line-ups (13 percent) rank among the top two dislikes of the season.

All I Want for Christmas

Is a new sweater on your list to Santa this year? According to the survey results, clothing ranks as the most popular type of gift to give...but does that make it the most popular to receive? Most shoppers (14 percent) listed gift cards and certificates as the gifts they'd most like to receive, followed by electronics (13 percent), cash (11 percent), clothing (11 percent) and books (nine percent). Although gift cards are the most sought after item, they rank as the fourth most popular gift to give (57 percent). Clothing will be purchased by seventy-eight percent of Canadian shoppers, making it the number one item to give. Shoppers also intend to purchase toys (64 percent) and books (64 percent). Canadian parents report that the "must have" items for their children are clothes (17 percent), toys (11 percent), electronics (10 percent) and gaming systems (8 percent). And more than one-third (37 percent) of Canadians shoppers say they'll purchase gifts for themselves this December.

Generosity by Gender

Canadian shoppers agree that the hardest person to shop for is their spouse or partner. Men (37 percent), more than women (26 percent), believe this to be true. Perhaps this explains why men are the more generous spenders this season. They said they expect to spend an average of $1178 on their friends and loved ones compared to their female counterparts, who are spending an average of $953 - a difference of 19 percent. Although men are spending more overall, women plan to purchase more gifts - 12.5 gifts versus the 11.2 gifts men plan to buy. Should one of these gifts be for a sweetheart, survey results reveal that the item most likely to top men's wish lists is electronic goods (21 percent), while most women place gift certificates or cards (16 percent) at the top of their lists. The least hoped-for gift based on gender is jewelry for men (two percent) and sports equipment for women (one percent).

Web-Savvy Shoppers

One quarter (26 percent) of Canadian shoppers intend to purchase gifts online this holiday season, spending the most on books (36 percent), clothing (26 percent) and electronic equipment (23 percent). With 12 percent of the vote each, music/CDs and toys round out the top five online purchases. Canadians plan to spend $324 on online holiday purchases, up 37 percent from 2006. This means more Canadians - including a record 33 percent of British Columbians - will be able to avoid the long lines and the crowds at local malls.

Workplace Revelry

Are Canadian employers embracing the festive spirit this December? Half of respondents report that their employers will organize a holiday outing or party, 43 percent will allow employees to take time off work, 23 percent will organize a staff gift exchange and seven percent will host a cookie exchange. Holiday parties are particularly popular among Quebecers: 61 percent said that their employers will reward their efforts with a celebration. Those that won't be indulging in eggnog or gingerbread with co-workers will likely have their fair share of treats among friends and family: nearly half (forty-three percent) of Canadians expect to attend two or three holiday parties this season and more than one-quarter (28 percent) will attend four or more parties.

Holiday Gratitude

This holiday season, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of holiday shoppers said they will give food to charity during the holidays, followed by donations of money (63 percent), clothing (60 percent) and time (31 percent). Although the number of people giving to charity has decreased (an overall six percent decline from 2006), the biggest year-over-year change is in monetary donations. Although the average spend on holiday gifts and entertaining is at an all time high, the number of respondents giving money to charity this holiday has decreased nine percent from last year. Those that are making monetary donations plan to give an average of $196, with almost half (46 percent) donating $25 to $100. Five percent of respondent will donate more than $500.

Not only is it better to give than to receive, but time with family is deemed the best gift of all. The survey results show that by far the most enjoyable aspect of the holidays is spending time with friends and family, mentioned by nearly two out of three survey respondents (64 percent).

The Visa Canada gift-giving survey was conducted between November 1 and 7, 2007 by Omnitel. A random national sample of 1,318 male and female respondents 18 years of age and older were interviewed via telephone. Results for a sample of this size are considered accurate, with a margin of error of 2.67 percent, 19 times out of 20.

About Visa

Visa operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit

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