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BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO Bank of Montreal

December 22, 2011 06:00 ET

The Last-Minute Club: BMO Report Shows More Canadians Got a Head Start on Holiday Shopping, While One-in-Ten Still Procrastinate

- BMO Holiday Spending Survey shows consumers are better prepared for holiday shopping now than in 2010, with most planning weeks or months in advance

- However, 11 per cent of Canadians still consider themselves last-minute shoppers

- Men more likely to leave gift shopping until the last minute (13 per cent vs 8 per cent of women)

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 22, 2011) - According to the BMO Holiday Spending Survey, fewer Canadians are waiting until the last minute to cross names off of their holiday shopping list, with the majority planning their shopping weeks or months in advance (44 per cent and 37 per cent respectively).

However, one-in-ten (11 per cent) still don't begin their holiday shopping until the last minute, leaving themselves only a few days to wrap up their gift giving.

"With Canadian families balancing busier schedules more than ever before, it's no surprise that a few shoppers will be rushing around at the last-minute. However, this last-minute rush can often cause people to make impulse decisions and sometimes over-spend extend themselves on gift buying," said Su McVey, Vice President, BMO Bank of Montreal. "Planning ahead and establishing a budget early on to cap and track holiday spending can help avoid last-minute spending pitfalls."

Ms. McVey added that online banking features, including tools such as BMO MoneyLogic™, allow Canadians to set spending limits and get immediate insights into whether or not they are staying on track.

So as Canada's last-minute shoppers rush to cross names off their shopping lists, BMO Bank of Montreal offers the following Do's and Don'ts for the frantic, time-crunched holiday shopper:

Don't Panic - You still have time to get everything done. Keep your shopping list handy at all times and try to pick up one or two items when you can - either during your lunch hour or after work. A call ahead to the retailer can confirm whether or not your item is in stock. Ask them to hold it for you so you can get in and out of the store quickly.

Do Check Return Policies - Don't forget to check the retailer's return policy before making a purchase. Knowing the return policy can help ease the stress of last-minute shopping and help safeguard against the consequences of making impulse gift purchases.

Don't get Scrooged when you Shop Online - Shopping online can save you time and money, but stick to the reputable sites and beware of sites you don't know. Pay close attention to shipping dates and build in extra delivery time so you won't be disappointed. For added protection, consider purchasing your gifts with a credit card that offers some form of insurance, which will cover you if gifts you buy get lost, stolen, or broken.

Do Cap your Spending - Develop a budget and stick to it. The pressure of last minute shopping can cause shoppers to make impulse decisions and often spend more than necessary. Set a budget for each family member and ask them to make a list of gifts that fall within the allotted amount so you set a realistic expectation and ensure you don't over-spend.

Do Take Advantage of Store Sales and Coupons - Overpaying is overspending. The one upside for last-minute shoppers is that retailers are often anxious to clear their inventory before December 25th, so watch for significant sales. Many retailers will discount their merchandise from 20 per cent to 50 per cent, or more. Take the time to comparison shop and look for store sales to ensure you're getting the best price.

Do Use a Credit Card and Debit Card that Rewards you for your Purchases - Even if you pay full price, you can maximize the value of your purchases by using a credit or debit card that offers rewards for every dollar you spend. Some credit cards offer attractive 'cash back' options while others let you redeem your rewards for travel or merchandise. BMO credit cards offer the best of both, with CashBack reward options or BMO Elite™ Rewards points, which offers one of the highest travel redemption rates in the industry. Or, collect AIR MILES Reward miles on some BMO banking accounts or credit cards.

For more details on BMO MoneyLogic, visit www.bmo.com/moneylogic, and for more details on how to save, borrow and spend smartly, visit www.bmo.com/smartsteps.

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