Canadians trim their holiday shopping, but many still expect to go over budget: CIBC Poll

Canadians plan to spend an average of nearly $600 on this year’s holiday shopping, 8 per cent less than last year, yet more than half (51 per cent) expect to go over budget in the exuberance of the festive season, a new CIBC poll finds.

“The danger comes from what’s not wrapped – the entertaining, travelling, or even tempting Boxing Day sales and New Year’s festivities,” says David Nicholson, Vice-President, CIBC Imperial Service. “If we’re not careful, these unplanned expenses can derail even the most mindful budgeters and lead to tighter finances, stress and even regret when the bills come due.”

Key poll findings include:

  • $597 is the average amount Canadians say they will spend on holiday shopping, compared to $652 last year
    • Albertans will spend 6 per cent more this season at $688, while Ontarians and Quebecers cut their holiday shopping budgets by 12 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.
    • Despite trimming their shopping budgets by 7 per cent, those in Atlantic Canada are still the country’s top gift-buyers, spending $803.
    • Millennials are reducing their holiday spend by 14 per cent to about $400 on average.
  • 51 per cent expect to go over budget and carry some holiday debt, with many (13 per cent) anticipating that they will feel ‘a little guilty’ or the ‘pain’ of overspending when their bill comes due in January.
  • 57 per cent pay off their credit card balances in full and 13 per cent say they don’t use a credit card, while nearly a third (29 per cent) carry their debt forward.


Millennials more apt to overspend

Millennials are more apt to buy on credit than those aged 35+ (60 per cent vs. 52 per cent)  and one in five (20 per cent) expect their shopping to result in them feeling ‘a little guilt’ or ‘pain’ when their card bills come due. They also tend to carry card debt longer, with nearly half (48 per cent) carrying credit card debt forward for more than a year, including 18 per cent who say they can’t remember the last time their balance was zero.

The poll findings also show that nearly two-thirds of Generation X-ers (35-54 years) with card debt either carry balances forward one year or more or can’t recall the last time they had a zero balance.

“While most Canadians use their credit card responsibly, it’s very easy to get swept up by the holiday spirit and carried away with spending,” says Mr. Nicholson. “The best way to stay cheerful is to spend within your means.”

The poll also shows that the likelihood to overspend over the holidays is true for all Canadians regardless of age or income. In fact, more than half (52 per cent) with higher incomes break their budget, adds Mr. Nicholson.

“Feeling the pressure of the holiday season is something we all share,” says Mr. Nicholson. “At this time of year, it’s really important to talk to your family and friends about gift-buying expectations and entertaining costs. The holidays hold a lot of emotion and tradition, so the more you can manage expectations, the less stress you’ll have and the easier it will be on your budget.”


Tips to avoid financial pain after the holidays:


Reboot expectations – While every family and tradition is different, talk to your family and friends about setting spending limits or be creative and consider making new traditions as alternatives to expensive outings and gift buying.


Track your spending and check it twice – Be aware of what you’re spending in stores and online, include everything from gifts, party clothes, tips, entertaining and travel costs. Use tracking tools, such as CIBC CreditSmart, to help you avoid creeping expenses.


Go Prepaid – set a hard limit with a reloadable prepaid card. CIBC Smart™ Prepaid Visa* Card can help you stick to your budget by pre-setting your day-to-day discretionary spending.


Entertain at home – Avoid hefty restaurant bills by entertaining family and friends at home. Consider sharing costs of food and drink with ‘BYO’ meals or potluck for additional cost savings.


Be smart about credit – If paying by credit card, choose the one that works best for you. While paying on credit offers considerable consumer benefits and rewards, stay on top of your money and avoid late fees with alerts sent to your phone or email. This will help you reap rewards benefits and avoid the pain of carrying balances forward and incurring interest.


Seek advice – If you get to January fearing the bill of your holiday spend, don’t worry: You’re not alone. Talk to an advisor to help you create a budget to manage your cash flow, and set you on the right track for 2017 so that you only take on debt that can be comfortably managed and paid off. 

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