Canadians hope for a better 2010, but shelve holiday spending, according to
the new RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index

Half of Canadians plan to spend less this holiday season

TORONTO, Dec. 1 /CNW/ - RBC today established a new monthly benchmark index - the most comprehensive consumer index in Canada - describing Canadian consumers' assessment of the economy and their personal financial situation. The inaugural RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook report found that more than three in five Canadians (62 per cent) expect the Canadian economy to improve over the next year, while only 14 per cent expect it to worsen. However, people are not as optimistic in the short term, and are tightening their belts over the holiday season: one half (47 per cent) plan to spend less this year than last year and one in five Canadians (18 per cent) will not buy any gifts at all. On average, Canadians expect to spend $1,218 on holiday purchases, including gifts, decorations and entertaining.

"The recent economic times have left many Canadians feeling uneasy about their financial well-being and this is reflected in their restraint when it comes to holiday spending," said David McKay, group head, Canadian Banking, RBC. "We've reached out to millions of Canadians this year, and it's clear that everyone's situation and goals are unique. We're here to provide advice that's timely and relevant for each one of our customers."

The index measures Canadians' perception of current conditions compared to three months ago, as well as short term (three month) prospects for their personal finances, their job anxiety and a number of other factors. National highlights include:

    
    -   Job Anxiety: One in four Canadians (27 per cent) said that a member
        of their household is worried about losing their job or being laid
        off. Based on previous polling, job anxiety has risen to its highest
        point since March 2009. As well, there are significant regional
        differences in job anxiety, with a third of Albertans (36 per cent)
        expressing concern about losing their job or being laid off, compared
        to the national average of 27 per cent. Conversely, only 12 per cent
        of respondents from Manitoba and Saskatchewan expressed this job
        anxiety.

    -   Personal Financial Situation (Overall): Nearly four in ten Canadians
        (39 per cent) think that their personal financial situation is worse
        than it was three months ago, but more than one in four Canadians (27
        per cent) think that their personal financial situation will improve
        in the next three months. Once again, Canadians are more optimistic
        in the longer term, with nearly four in ten Canadians (38 per cent)
        expecting their personal economic situation to improve over the next
        year.

    -   Interest rates: Canadians are divided on whether interest rates are
        going up or staying the same, with a small majority (52 per cent)
        expecting interest rates to rise in the next six months and four in
        ten Canadians (42 per cent) expecting that interest rates will stay
        the same over the same period.
    

"Recovery is in sight for the world economy," said Dawn Desjardins, assistant chief economist, RBC. "We're off to a slow start but the economy will start to build steam and unemployment will reach its peak early next year and then fall off."

About The RBC Monthly Canadian Consumer Outlook Index

The RBC Monthly Canadian Consumer Outlook Index was established on December 1, 2009, based on the results of an online survey of 1,018 Canadians, ages 18 and over, conducted between November 9 and 16, 2009. 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. 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 +/-3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled.

SOURCE RBC

For further information: For further information: Rina Cortese, RBC Corporate Communications, (416) 974-6970; Stephanie Lu, RBC Media Relations, (416) 974-5506


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