Report examines Canadian's behaviour and outlook post-recession and finds the housing market is key factor driving economic optimism

TORONTO, April 27 /CNW/ - When it comes to what determines their financial outlook, a new study reveals the vast majority of Canadians put their eggs in one basket: real estate.

According to Bensimon Byrne's latest Consumerology Report, Canadians are still coping with the effects of the recession yet are feeling optimistic their personal finances. When asked about their personal financial situation now compared to pre-recession 49 per cent report their living expenses have increased, only 31 per cent are earning more money, and only 22 per cent report say their investments have increased. Despite these figures, more than half (58 per cent) say their personal finances are better today than they were before the recession and the vast majority (81 per cent) indicate they expect to be doing even better one year from now.

The findings point to an obvious question: what's driving this post-recession optimism?  And the answer appears to be the Canadian housing market; with the majority of Canadians (58 per cent) saying their house or condo is worth more than pre-recession.

"This study shows that people are still feeling the effects of the recession hangover but their outlook is improving because of the rising value of their homes," said Jack Bensimon, President of the Toronto-based advertising agency.  "Ultimately, the results show that people's confidence is highly reliant on a strong housing market.  Most Canadians continue to feel the cost-of-living pinch and have not seen improvements in their incomes, job security or growth in their investments, and yet, because of the increase in the value of their home, their perception of their own net worth is improved."

Each quarter, the Consumerology Report tracks consumer opinions about the economy, individual financial expectations, consumer spending intentions, and attitudes toward key national issues. Commissioned by the Toronto-based advertising agency Bensimon Byrne and fielded by The Gandalf Group, the purpose of this edition was to understand the consumer financial situation, post-recession attitudes and behaviours, and consumer economic outlook.

Beyond the overall optimism Canadians are feeling about the economy, the report also revealed Canadians are feeling the financial squeeze from rising grocery and gas prices, along with increased taxes and utility costs. Canadians are also focused on reducing their debt and building a savings safety net - a reality that will cause many consumers to cut back on discretionary expenditures, especially those related to entertainment.

The report also finds that even so-called essentials are not 'recession proof'. During the recession, even items like groceries and gas experienced a decline. The categories hit hardest were vacations, clothes, eating out, and fitness. Now, these areas are starting to rebound but bars and live sporting events are still victims of the recession with people reluctant to open their wallets for those activities.

"Clearly, as the economy recovers the culture of thrift and fragility is persisting in select areas," concluded Bensimon.

Additional Survey Highlights

  • More than half of Canadians are doing better today than they were doing a year ago and better than they were pre-recession.
  • More than half (59 per cent) say the Canadian economy is in a period of growth.
  • More than three quarters (77 per cent) of Canadians think a year from now the economy will be stronger.
  • When looking at financial factors in their life, people feel most positive about the value of their home (73 per cent) and least positive about their retirement income (35 per cent).
  • The cost of healthcare/medications, mortgage/rent, and cable/satellite TV are household budget pressures for a clear majority of Canadians.
  • Lower income Canadians are particularly stressed by two essentials - food costs and medical/prescription drug costs.

About the Survey
The Consumerology Report is a quarterly survey commissioned by Toronto-based advertising agency Bensimon Byrne. This quarter's survey was conducted in English and French by The Gandalf Group amongst 1,500 Canadians. The questionnaire was conducted in French and English over the period of March 24-29, 2011. Previous editions of the Consumerology Report have covered a variety of topics including: The Impact of Macro-economic Trends; The Impact of Environmental Issues; New Canadians, New Consumers; Corporate Social Responsibility; Retirement; and Economic Trends and Consumer Behaviour. All reports can be found at www.consumerology.ca.

About Bensimon Byrne
Bensimon Byrne is a privately owned, full-service, Canadian advertising agency. Established in 1993, the agency has worked with a host of blue-chip companies and brands, producing some of Canada's most effective and memorable advertising.

SOURCE Bensimon Byrne

For further information:

To view the full report: 

For more information or to arrange an interview:
Tara Wood, Narrative Advocacy Media, Office: 416-644-4133 / Cell: 416-301-9760, tara.wood@narrative.ca

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