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Want to save money on gifts? Embrace holiday sales, and start early


Canadians are shopping early (and shopping around) 

If financial pressures are making you rethink your gift list, you’re in good company. Many Canadians are approaching holiday shopping this year with “cautious optimism and concern,” according to Deloitte Canada’s 2022 Holiday Retail Outlook, an annual forecast for retailers. 

“What’s different this year, than any other year, is the messiness we have around us—geopolitical concerns, economic headwinds, the threat of recession, supply chain problems, and on and on,” says Marty Weintraub, national retail leader at Deloitte Canada. “This is the first time it’s all happened at the same time. If anything, the mood might be even darker than it was [when we did the survey].”

Highlights from Deloitte’s survey of 1,000 Canadians, conducted in early September, include:

  • 76% expect prices to be higher than last year.
  • 37% are shopping earlier this year.
  • Many of us (60%) plan to look for sales, buy from retailers with the lowest possible prices (70%) or switch brands if our first pick is too expensive (72%). 
  • Canadians plan to spend an average of $1,520 over the holiday season, down 17% from last year’s figure, $1,841.
  • 76% of those who plan to spend less are cutting back because of higher food prices (76%), inflation worries (67%) and economic concerns (60%).

We’re buying less, but the gifts are more meaningful

To keep holiday spending in check, most Canadians are buying less, crossing names off their gift lists, and focusing on more meaningful purchases. 

Many of us are cutting back, but it’s not impacting the giving spirit, says Deloitte’s report. “The biggest reductions are going to come from three categories that may surprise you,” says Weintraub. “One is non-gift electronics, 55% lower than last year. The second one is travel, down 30%, and the last is non-gift apparel, down 27%. Those are big, double-digit decreases, but you’ll notice none of those categories are gift-giving, which we define as gifts and gift cards—down 10% from last year. The big chunk that gets the 17% decrease overall is that we’re not going to buy stuff for ourselves or travel.” 

Similarly, in another survey, the Retail Council of Canada found that eight in 10 Canadians plan to buy gifts, but more than half of respondents (62%) will shop for “more meaningful gifts for fewer people.” 

Meanwhile, research by Interac found that two-thirds of Canadians are practicing “intentional spending,” which it defines as “the action of making purposeful purchasing decisions that live up to their financial goals and personal values.” For many, that includes holding off buying for at least a day, if the item is non-essential. 

“These are challenging times for many consumers, and there is no easy solution,” says Nader Henin, EVP of commerce at Interac. “Canadians tell us they are managing the current pressures they face by being very intentional in their spending.”


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