Consumers likely to spend less this holiday season

A new RBC holiday outlook survey has predicted that Canadians may be more frugal this year than they were last year, and that while the majority seem to be in a gift giving mood, they plan to spend less.

The annual RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook suggests that the average Canadian participating in the holidays will spend $1,182 on gifts, entertaining, decorations and travel. This is down 6 per cent from last year and closer to 2010’s spending habits.

For gifts alone, the survey predicted shoppers will spend $629, down from $640 in 2011. Spending on expenses other than gifts will likely drop by 10 per cent.

The results conflict with findings from other surveys such as the Bank of Montreal, which projected an increase of 15 per cent in holiday spending, at $1,610. Ernst & Young reported a likely 3.5 per cent increase this year, based on improved consumer confidence. Deloitte predicted a slight increase at 1 or 2 per cent more, and noted that it will likely be an intensely price competitive season as shoppers check for best prices online before heading to the stores.

If you’re looking to spend less this holiday season, here are a few quick tips to help spread your dollars further:

Shop and search online

Determined not to pay full price? Websites like Consumer World’s Price Checker let you find the item you want at the store offering the deepest discount. And not only can you compare and find the lowest price on the internet, buying online is often a good way to save. Bidding sites like eBay often offer up items for a fraction of the price, and many stores have sales on their website that they don’t offer in store. Also check for any discounted online gift cards that may be available for purchase.

DIY gifts

Many frugally minded givers opt for this route each year. Making a gift rather than buying it not only saves money, but can be more meaningful for the person receiving it. Who doesn’t love a beautifully wrapped batch of cookies or a pair of warm, hand-knitted mittens? (For more ideas, see 5 do-it-yourself gifts they’ll love.)

Put it in writing

Getting organized and making a list of who you are buying for will not only save you money, but also stress and time. Once purchased, keep a record of what you bought and how much you spent.