Canadians to spend less this Christmas

Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:23pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadians plan to spend 14 percent less this Christmas shopping season, with the majority seeking deep discounts at the big retail chains, as consumer confidence slides to a 26-year low.

A survey released on Monday by marketing research firm Maritz Research Canada showed that shoppers plan to spend an average of C$571 ($464) on gifts, down 14 percent from the average of C$663 last year.

About 70 percent said they would pay cash -- including debit cards -- for the purchases.

"This year, the consumer mood is changing and as a result retailers are facing fiercer competition for a smaller pool of spending dollars," Robert Daniel, managing director at Maritz, said in a release.

Respondents also said that they would shop at the large retailers including Wal-Mart Stores, Canadian Tire Corp and Zellers.

Canadian retailers have been forced to cut prices on many key products as they look to fend off stiff price competition from U.S.-based retail giant Wal-Mart.

Earlier on Monday, Wal-Mart Canada said it was cutting prices on thousands of items including toys, electronics and small appliances, ahead of what is expected to be a sluggish Christmas season.

The intense competition on prices comes as consumer confidence in Canada dropped further in November to its lowest level since 1982 as the global economic turmoil intensified, the Conference Board of Canada said on Monday. [nN24498712]

($1=$1.23 Canadian)

(Reporting by Scott Anderson; editing by Rob Wilson)