December 20, 2007 / 2:17 AM / 10 years ago

Polls find Canadian shoppers are feeling generous

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian shoppers are in a generous mood this Christmas season and retailers are set to benefit, according to two polls released on Wednesday.

Visa Canada’s gift-giving survey projected shoppers plan to spend around C$23 billion this year, or an average of C$1,061 per person, while Bank of Nova Scotia’s spending study put the number at a lower, but still hefty, C$907.

A booming job market, along with a solid economy, recent tax cuts and a Canadian dollar roughly at par with the U.S. dollar have convinced Canadians to open up their wallets, said Aron Gampel, Scotiabank’s deputy chief economist.

“Throw in for good measure more traditional ‘cold and white’ weather, and you have the makings of a holiday shopping season that should warm the hearts of our seasonal merchandisers and tourism providers.”

Scotiabank found that 78 percent of respondents planned to do all of their shopping in Canada, despite the attraction of cross-border bargains thanks to the strong domestic currency.

The Canadian dollar surged to a modern-day high in November of US$1.10, before falling back to around parity with the greenback. It is still up more than 13 percent since the beginning of the year.

That has forced Canadian retailers to slash prices in order to stem the flow of bargain-hunters crossing into the United States.

The Visa study found that almost one in four shoppers expects to spend more than C$1,200 on gifts this year.

And, while the average amount people plan to spend has risen 14 percent over last year, the number of gifts on Christmas lists has declined to 11.9 this year, from 13.3 gifts in 2006, the study found.

“It seems Canadian shoppers are valuing quality over quantity this holiday season,” said Tania Freedman, director of corporate communications at Visa Canada.

“It’s also interesting to observe that holiday shoppers plan to spend an average of C$325 on seasonal entertaining, which means Canadians expect to spend an estimated C$1,386 per person on gifts and entertaining combined this holiday.”

The Visa study was conducted by Omnitel via telephone, between November 1 and 7, with a random national sample of 1,318 respondents 18 years of age and older. The results are considered accurate within 2.67 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The Scotiabank study was conducted December 7-10 by Decima, with 774 random national telephone interviews . It is considered accurate within a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

($1=$1.00 Canadian)

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Rob Wilson

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