Two-thirds of Canadians are cutting back on gifts

Accenture's holiday report finds a number of ways inflation is impacting spending habits.


Canadians will be a little bit more Scrooge-like this holiday season, according to the latest numbers from Accenture.

Accenture surveyed 1,500 Canadian consumers on their holiday shopping plans, finding that people are keeping close tabs on their spending: 67% of respondents are cutting back on gifts to their extended family and friends, with 57% not exchanging them altogether.

Other ways people are planning to save money include cutting back on non-essentials such as entertainment subscriptions and eating at restaurants (69%), and spending less on travel or hotel stays (63%).

Inflation is also leading many respondents report they will take on a side hustle (41%) or plan on increasing their work hours (39%) to earn additional income before the holidays.

“As we near the holiday season, consumers have tightened their wallets and are making adjustments to their everyday spending while finding new ways to boost their income,” says Robin Sahota, managing director at Accenture and the leader of its retail practice in Canada.

While anticipated 2022 spend ($643) is marginally higher than last year ($635), it’s still considerably lower than pre-COVID holiday spend of $721 reported in 2019. Also, one-third of all consumers surveyed say rising prices leave them “no choice” but to spend more, with 14% more boomers prioritizing price over younger millennials.

When it comes to deciding where to shop and how to spend money, price is the top consideration (81%), followed by quality (69%) and special offers (53%).

Cost considerations will inform how and when people shop: 42% say they want to take the time to look for the best prices, or will shop when and as they are offered promotions or discounts (37%).

As in 2021, this year 57% of Canadians report they would do the majority of their holiday shopping instore. 

The report notes that retailers interested in attracting Gen Z shoppers might consider blending online elements into the in-store experience, with a focus on flexibility and convenience: 76% of that demo want the ability to choose items in-store and have them delivered, compared with 44% of seniors.

For the first time, Accenture asked whether respondents might purchase a gift in the metaverse. Gen Z respondents were most likely to say yes (10%) – though the metaverse trailed behind in-store, online marketplaces or online retailers. And 13% of Gen Z say they have a non-fungible token (NFT) on their gift wish list, and 14% say they’re likely to buy an NFT for someone else.

Around half of respondents are interested in visiting virtual stores over the holiday season, if offered by a brand they know and trust.