Canadians delay holiday shopping anticipating further bargains, favour
Walmart and shun budgets

Annual study from Maritz Research Canada reveals 2009 holiday season shopping trends

TORONTO, Dec. 9 /CNW/ - With many retailers reporting disappointing sales numbers from the early stages of the 2009 holiday shopping season, results from Maritz Research's 2009 Canadian Holiday Shopping Poll may provide a reason for optimism. According to survey results, Canadians still have one-half (51 per cent) of their holiday shopping left to accomplish.

    
       Proportion of holiday spending in the following periods:
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    October or before                                         11%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    November                                                  20%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    December 1-7                                              17%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    December 8-14                                             22%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    December 15-22                                            22%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    December 23-24                                             5%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    After December 25                                          2%
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    -   43 per cent of Canadians have delayed at least some of their shopping
        this year in anticipation of lower prices and bigger sales

    -   Men (58 per cent), Canadians under 35 years of age (57 per cent) and
        Quebecers (57 per cent) still have more than half of their holiday
        shopping to complete
    

"The holiday season is the most competitive retail environment of the year. With half of Canadians indicating they are only halfway through their shopping, this is an excellent opportunity for retailers to improve upon the customer experience, potentially offsetting the low retail sales figures from November and winning long-term customer loyalty," said Rob Daniel, Managing Director, Maritz Research Canada.

Where Canadians spend the remainder of their holiday budgets depends on a number of factors, according to the survey. Walmart comes out on top for the third year in a row, with 65 per cent of respondents planning to shop at the super-store.

    
      Top Ten Projected Retail Locations of Holiday Season 2009
    (Proportion of Canadians intent on shopping at each retailer)
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Walmart                                                   65%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Zellers                                                   43%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Canadian Tire                                             43%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Liquor/Beer Store                                         32%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Future Shop                                               31%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Sears                                                     30%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Costco                                                    25%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Toys "R" Us/ Babies "R" Us                                24%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapters/Indigo                                           24%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Tim Horton's                                              23%
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    -   Canadians plan to spend an average of $570 on gifts this holiday
        season, nearly identical to 2008

    -   While Zellers and Canadian Tire tie for second in planned shopping
        locales, respondents prefer the shopping experience at Costco and
        Toys 'R' Us
    

Why consumers remain loyal to certain retailers is due to a number of factors. Canadians rank 'sales and discounts', 'level of customer service', 'availability of staff' and 'hours of operation' as the top four influencers when deciding where to shop.

What keeps customers away? Crowds (34 per cent) and long line-ups (17 per cent) are the most often cited negative holiday shopping experiences. According to the survey, 19 per cent of customers who have had a bad shopping experience never returned to that retailer.

    
    Have you told others about a bad holiday shopping experience?
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    No                                                        20%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Yes                                                       80%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    

"Customers aren't letting retailers off the hook just because it's the busy holiday season," cautions Daniel. "They have the same high expectations for customer service that they have throughout the rest of the year. Price is still king, but our research tells us that customer experience plays a crucial role, and will be remembered long after a customer has forgotten what they paid."

What Canadians are buying this year may not be exactly what recipients are hoping for, according to the holiday survey. Clothes and apparel are the most common purchase (51 per cent will buy these items), followed by entertainment products (49 per cent) and gift certificates (45 per cent). But, when asked what type of gift respondents would most like to receive, gift certificates were the most preferred (20 per cent). This was particularly evident amongst women, with 25 per cent hoping for gift certificates, while electronics are tops among men (24 per cent).

    
                     Top Gift Categories for Purchase
                              (Multi-select)
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Clothing and Apparel                                      51%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Entertainment (e.g. DVDs, CDs, games)                     49%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Gift Certificates                                         45%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Toys                                                      41%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Beer, Wine, Spirits                                       39%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Electronics                                               36%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Candies/Chocolates                                        36%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Health, Beauty, Personal Care Products                    34%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Children's Apparel                                        25%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Jewellery, Accessories, Leather Goods                     25%
    --------------------------------------------------------------


                 Top Gift Categories Hoped to Receive
                              (Choose One)
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Gift Certificates                                         20%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Electronics                                               17%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Clothing and Apparel                                      11%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Entertainment (e.g. DVDs, CDs, games)                      8%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Jewellery, Accessories, Leather Goods                      8%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Home Furnishings, Décor, Houseware                         5%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Home Improvement Products, including Tools                 4%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Live Entertainment                                         4%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Beer, Wine, Spirits                                        3%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Hobbies, Other Speciality Goods                            3%
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    

How Canadians will pay for their purchases this year has also evolved. After leaving their credit cards at home last year, customers are more willing in 2009 to pay for gifts using their credit cards (34 per cent, up from 29 per cent in 2008).

Canadians also love their loyalty programs with 50 per cent of shoppers willing to go out of their way to shop where they can accumulate reward points. AIR MILES (76 per cent), Hbc Rewards (52 per cent) and Shoppers Optimum (48 per cent) are the most commonly used loyalty programs for holiday shoppers.

Budgeting and planning can equal big savings for many Canadians. Results show that Canadians who do not set a holiday budget spend up to 60 per cent more on gifts than those who do budget. Further, those who set out with a good idea of the gifts they will buy are much more likely to stick to their budgets than those who get their gift ideas from browsing in-store. 37 per cent of browsers report going over budget, compared with 27 per cent of those who know what they will buy before-hand.

For more detailed survey information, including regional and gender breakdowns, please see http://files.newswire.ca/241/Holiday_Shopping_2009.pdf.

About Maritz Research

As one of the world's largest marketing research firms, Maritz Research helps many of today's most successful companies improve performance through a deep understanding of their customers, employees and channel partners. Founded in 1973, it offers a range of strategic and tactical solutions concentrating primarily in the automotive, financial services, hospitality, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, retail, workplace and technology industries. The company is a member of the Canadian Marketing Association, the Market Research and Intelligence Association, ESOMAR, the Market Research Society, CASRO, the Conference Board, and the American Marketing Association.

Maritz Research Canada (http://www.maritz.com/About-Maritz/Our-Businesses/Research.aspx) and Maritz Canada (http://www.maritzcanada.com/indexmci.html) are units of Maritz, a sales and marketing services company, which helps organizations achieve their full potential through understanding, enabling, and motivating employees, channel partners, and customers. In addition to market and customer research, Maritz provides communications, learning solutions, incentive initiatives, meetings and event management, rewards and recognition, travel management services, and customer loyalty programs.

SOURCE Bond Brand Loyalty

For further information: For further information: and to arrange an interview with Rob Daniel, please contact: Allison Stokes, Andrea Ellison, Media Profile, (416) 504-8464, allison.stokes@mediaprofile.com, andrea.ellison@mediaprofile.com


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