It's one year later but not much has changed

    
    According to annual AIR MILES survey:
    -   Only six per cent of Canadians believe the economy is on an upswing
    -   Over 60 per cent to shop at retailers that offer loyalty points or
        miles and rewards
    

TORONTO, Dec. 2 /CNW/ - Canadians attitudes towards the economy and holiday spending have not changed significantly since last year according to 2009 results from the annual AIR MILES Reward Program Holiday Survey. After one year of recessionary pressures, and despite economic turnaround predictions, consumers are still citing the economic downturn as a reason for cutting back on holiday spending with 71 per cent of respondents indicating current economic conditions are a reason they will spend less this year.

The survey found about 3 in 10 Canadians (27 per cent) will be spending less this year on gifts and are stressed because they do not have enough money. As a result, the economic downturn has Canadians considering the added value on their purchases with almost 60 per cent of respondents planning to shop at retailers that offer added value loyalty points or miles this holiday season.

"Current economic conditions have allowed Canadians to take a closer look at their spending habits and reevaluate their shopping patterns," said Chief Marketing Officer, Neil Everett, AIR MILES Reward Program. "Consumer trends show that Canadians have become smarter shoppers during the past year by adding value like reward miles to their purchases that can be redeemed during the holidays as a supplement to their budget."

More than 60 per cent of Canadians believe it is appropriate to redeem their loyalty points or miles for gifts and of those respondents 84 per cent will be using their points or miles for holiday gifts this year. Other key findings from the survey include:

    
    -   Almost one in three Canadians stressed about not having enough money
        for gifts will turn to loyalty points or miles to help offset the
        costs of gift-giving
    -   Sixty-five per cent of shoppers will stick to a firm holiday budget
    -   Seventy-two per cent of shoppers will use credit cards to pay for
        gifts
    -   Three out of five shoppers plan to pay off their credit card
        immediately; 3 out of 10 plan to pay it off within two months
    

"When economic confidence is shaky, rewards programs present Canadians with the opportunity to turn miles into gifts," continues Everett. "By leveraging their saved reward points or miles they are able to offset all or a portion of their holiday budget for gift-giving. We are already seeing a 50 per cent increase in merchandise redemptions in November over the same period last year with iPods, popcorn makers and gaming systems leading the way as top redemption items."

    
    Additional Survey Results
    -------------------------
    

According to the survey, Canadians are planning to spend less on the holidays than one year ago. On average Canadians will spend $676 on holiday gifts this year, down somewhat from $736 in 2008. The breakdown by region is as follows:

    
    -   Atlantic Canadians plan to spend the most at $794 vs. $947 in 2008
    -   Ontarians plan to spend $731 vs. $805 in 2008
    -   Western Canadians plan to spend $676 vs. $734 in 2008
    -   Quebec residents plan to spend the least, $522 vs. $544 in 2008
    

The consumer shopping and holiday spend intention survey was commissioned by the AIR MILES Reward Program and conducted online, across Canada between October 29 - November 5, 2009. The survey polled a sample of 1,000 (AIR MILES Collectors) respondents and has a margin of error of +/- 3%, 19/20 times.

About the AIR MILES Reward Program

Founded in 1992, the AIR MILES Reward Program is Canada's premier coalition loyalty program. More than 10 million active Collector accounts, representing approximately two-thirds of all Canadian households, actively participate in the Program. The AIR MILES Reward Program allows Collectors to indulge in leisure, entertainment, merchandise, travel and other lifestyle rewards quickly, simply by doing their everyday shopping for products and services at AIR MILES Sponsors. AIR MILES reward miles can be redeemed for more than 1,200 different rewards, such as movie passes, family attractions, electronic merchandise, sports and recreation, travel and more.

Collectors can shop and collect AIR MILES reward miles at more than 100 brand-name Sponsors across the country, representing thousands of retail and service locations nationally, including RONA, Shell, The Shoe Company, BMO, Metro, Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, and airmilesshops.ca. The AIR MILES Reward Program's website is airmiles.ca.

SOURCE AIR MILES Reward Program

For further information: For further information: or to arrange an interview with an AIR MILES spokesperson, please contact: AIR MILES media desk at (416) 552-2346; or Sarah Daly, Libby Stunt, Veritas Communications, (416) 482-2292, daly@veritascanada.com, stunt@veritascanada.com


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