'Tis the season…and Canadians are in a gift-giving mood: RBC survey

Canadians plan to give gifts in 2011 (CNW Group/RBC)

Canadians intend to spend more on gifts this year (CNW Group/RBC)

Canadians intend to spend more on other holiday items this year (CNW Group/RBC)

Canadians' top three choices to pay for holiday purchases (CNW Group/RBC)

To pay for their holiday purchases: cash and debit cards (CNW Group/RBC)

To pay for their holiday purchases: credit cards (CNW Group/RBC)

Purchasing with cash is still king for most shoppers

TORONTO, Nov. 22, 2011 /CNW/ - With the holiday season just 32 shopping days away, there may be a few more presents under the tree this year. According to an RBC survey, Canadian gift-givers are planning to spend an average of $640 on gifts - up from $624 last year - and on average they will be spending $100 more than last year ($612 compared to $512) on other holiday items (entertainment, decorations, travel, etc.)

If last year's spending intentions and actual expenditures are any indication, Canadians will be experiencing yet another post-holiday headache, trying to pay off their bills in the New Year. In 2010, one-third of holiday shoppers who went over budget spent an average of $429 more than they intended - Atlantic Canadians actually overspent by $521, the highest expenditure in the country - and ended up cutting back on entertainment, day-to-day living expenses, credit card use and coffee/lunch costs to make up the difference.

"Having a budget in mind before you start checking off your holiday gift list will help ensure you're only spending what you know you can afford. It can be easy to get carried away with the holiday spirit when you're out shopping," advised Maria Contreras, product manager, Savings Accounts, RBC. "The very best gift you can give to yourself and your family is a debt-free holiday season - and a financially worry-free New Year."

Many Canadians intend to use money in hand to do their gift-buying, including cash (55 per cent) and debit cards (27 per cent) among their top three financing options for holiday purchases. Credit cards (37 per cent) round out the top three. Another sign that consumers are budget-minded: only 10 per cent said they hadn't yet thought about how to finance their holiday spending, compared to 20 per cent in 2010.

"Enjoying the holidays doesn't have to come with a big price tag attached," added Contreras. "A little planning ahead can help you stay within your spending limits for the holidays, as well as all year round. Ideally, you'll not only be covering your expenses, you'll also be saving money for your future goals. You can also use online financial management tools such as myFinanceTracker, a great solution for setting and tracking budgets, savings goals and spending habits."

Six Savings Tips for the Holidays and Year-Round

1. Curb your impulses. Count to 30 before impulse buying in a store, or wait 24 hours before making an online shopping decision.
2. Pay yourself first. Make your savings plan part of your bill paying routine, just like cable, utilities and mortgage payments.
3. Track your expenses. Make a list of all your expenditures over three months to see where there are opportunities to turn spending into saving.
4. Keep a separate savings account. Set up an account dedicated to savings; in this way, your savings won't get mixed in with your day-to-day cash.
5. Set a target date for your savings goal. Having a deadline can help you decide how much to put away and how often.
6. Visualize your savings goal. Are you saving for a vacation? A big screen TV? Keep a photo of your dream on hand, to inspire you to continue saving.

About RBC savings and other financial advice and interactive tools
Canadians can access www.rbc.com/savingsspot for free savings advice and resources. In addition, all personal RBC online banking clients can use myFinanceTracker, a no-cost interactive financial management tool, to create and track their budget, savings goals and spending habits. Whether Canadians want to get more from their day-to-day banking, protect what's important, save and invest, borrow with confidence or take care of their businesses, the RBC Advice Centre can help answer their questions. Interactive tools and calculators provide customized information covering many facets of personal finance. In addition, online advice videos are updated regularly to reflect current trends and to answer the questions that are top of mind with Canadians. With the guidance of RBC advisors who are available to chat live, Canadians have access to free, no-obligation professional advice about RBC products and services and personalized one-on-one service at www.rbcadvicecentre.com.

About the RBC survey
As part of Canada's most comprehensive consumer attitudes poll, this survey was conducted online via Ipsos Reid's national I-Say Consumer Panel to 3,054 Canadians (453 British Columbia, 454 Alberta, 458 Saskatchewan/Manitoba, 705 Ontario, 516 Quebec, 467 Atlantic Canada). Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. Data collection was September 26 to October 03, 2011. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of ±1.65 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled.

Image with caption: "Canadians plan to give gifts in 2011 (CNW Group/RBC)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20111122_C8142_PHOTO_EN_7057.jpg

Image with caption: "Canadians intend to spend more on gifts this year (CNW Group/RBC)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20111122_C8142_PHOTO_EN_7061.jpg

Image with caption: "Canadians intend to spend more on other holiday items this year (CNW Group/RBC)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20111122_C8142_PHOTO_EN_7059.jpg

Image with caption: "Canadians' top three choices to pay for holiday purchases (CNW Group/RBC)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20111122_C8142_PHOTO_EN_7063.jpg

Image with caption: "To pay for their holiday purchases: cash and debit cards (CNW Group/RBC)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20111122_C8142_PHOTO_EN_7053.jpg

Image with caption: "To pay for their holiday purchases: credit cards (CNW Group/RBC)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20111122_C8142_PHOTO_EN_7055.jpg






For further information:

Kathy Bevan, RBC Corporate Communications, 416 974-2727, kathy.bevan@rbc.com
Craig Christie, RBC Corporate Communications, 416 974-8820, craig.christie@rbc.com