More than one-third of Canadians plan to spend less on gifts this holiday season than they did last year, while 44 per cent plan to spend about the same amount.
But in spite of the statistics — released in the recent TD Canada Trust Holiday Shopping Survey — international economic recession and the predictions of shoppers themselves, Ottawa shopping centres are experiencing traffic that may very well be better than last year.
“This season has been fantastic,” said Cindy VanBuskirk, general manager of the Rideau Centre. “Traffic has been up four to seven per cent every week since November.”
Denis Pelletier, general manager of Bayshore Shopping Centre, agreed. “What we’re seeing is a traditional Christmas shopping season,” he said.
Shoppers’ habits may be to blame for their inability to hold stricter budgets in a year of recession. The survey found that although most Canadians set a budget for buying gifts, only one in five people stick to it.
“Thirty-two per cent of Canadians say they spend between 10 per cent and 50 per cent more than they budgeted for during the holidays,” said Carrie Russell, senior vice-president, core banking and payments, TD Canada Trust.
Barrhaven shopper Steve Oliver believes that better prices are behind the spending spree. “I think everybody’s just out looking for a deal,” he said. “The stores know everybody’s hurting, so they’re trying to help us out.”
“If you were to buy a leather jacket this year, that same jacket would have cost you $50 to $100 more last year,” he said. “I think people are seeing value and purchasing these items.”
But people should still be careful.
“The reality is that many across Canada will need to spend less this year,” Russell said.