Holiday spending will be up nearly $120 per person

According to Accenture, spending will still be down compared to 2019, but there will be a surprising amount of in-store shopping.
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Canadians are planning to spend $635 on average this holiday season, up $119, or 23% from last year.

That’s according to Accenture’s 2021 10th annual Holiday Shopping Report, a survey of 1,514 Canadian consumers online split between gender and across age groups, each of whom had purchased an item for personal use either online or in a store within the previous six months.

Despite the bump up from last year, the forecast is still down from pre-pandemic spending levels: in 2019, the firm predicted average spending would be $721.

According to the survey, adults with young children are – predictably – the most generous segment (spending an average of $956), with single adults spending $453, on average. Baby Boomers, regardless of family status, fall somewhere in the middle, with an average anticipated spend of $713.

In what might be more of a surprise, given how shopping habits have shifted over the last two years, Accenture’s data reveals that 57% of Canadians are doing their shopping in-store, compared with 43% online. Men are more likely to shop at brick-and-mortar locations, with 63% intending to do the bulk of their shopping in-store, compared with 53% of women.

“Despite the dramatic growth we’ve seen in online shopping as a result the pandemic, many Canadians will be purchasing in stores to prepare for the holidays,” says Robin Sahota, managing director of Accenture’s retail practice in Canada, who adds that shoppers are well-informed on the shipping delays and inventory issues they may face this year, with 32% of consumers worried about not getting what they want.

That said, old habits die hard, and nearly half of Canadians will be resorting to doing do some or most of their shopping at the last minute.

Consumers are also demanding innovation from traditional retail. For example, 32% of respondents report they would use QR codes attached to in-store items that provide additional information, such as available sizes, and allow them to easily purchase online for home delivery.

Canadians are increasingly conscientious shoppers

Sustainability and responsibility continue to to be top of mind, with 40% of respondents saying they will opt for environmentally friendly packaging and deliveries, and 44% saying they plan to seek out products that come in reusable or refillable packaging. And 58% intend to buy more locally sourced products and from local retailers in the next six to 12 months.

Another emerging trend is Canadians choosing to support diverse retailers, with 32% reporting that they will be shopping at BIPOC-owned stores, a behaviour Gen Z overindexes on.

Many Canadians are feeling charitable

The survey also found that 69% of Canadian consumers intend to make some form of charitable contribution over the holidays, and according to the Accenture report, this represents an opportunity for brands to partner with charities, but they need to make the experience seamless to boost engagement.