The shopping habits of Quebecers in 2007 - Will Québec consumers' higher confidence level results in increased spending?

    MONTREAL, March 19 /CNW Telbec/ - The Conseil québécois du commerce de
détail/Retail Council of Quebec (CQCD) released on March 19, 2007 the results
of a survey conducted on its behalf by Groupe Géocom on consumer spending
trends in Quebec.

    - Quebec households' perception of their financial situation

    The last 12 months

    The survey reveals that 82% of Quebec households consider their financial
situation to have improved or remained stable over the last 12 months. This
figure compares with 80% in March 2006.
    The other 18% of households indicated that their financial situation had
deteriorated over the last 12 months. Among the reasons mentioned were an
increase in the cost of living (44%), a deterioration in working conditions
(22%), change of status: retirement, back to school, etc. (15%) and job loss

    The next 12 months

    As regards their financial situation for the next 12 months, Quebec
households are relatively optimistic; 89% expect their situation to either
remain stable (55%) or improve (34%). Only 7% of households expect their
situation to worsen, with the great majority of these citing an increase in
the cost of living as the major reason for the deterioration.

    - Quebec's financial situation

    Quebecers are less optimistic with regard to Quebec's financial
situation, with 29% expecting to see a deterioration over the next 12 months.
However, this proportion is significantly lower than last year, when 45% of
Quebecers were pessimistic regarding the financial situation of Quebec.
    "We can conclude that, in general, Quebecers are more optimistic than
last year about Quebec's financial future and in particular about the
financial health of their own households," notes the CQCD's president, Mr.
Gaston Lafleur.

    - Spending intentions

    Major purchases

    The survey reveals that 27% of households intend to make a major purchase
in the next 12 months. This is the highest proportion noted since 2003.
    Automobiles are in first place among the major purchases planned: 10% of
Quebec households intend to buy an automobile in the next 12 months; house
appliances come second (6%), followed by houses (5%), furniture (3%), and
computers and software (3%).

    - The Géocom - CQCD confidence index: nearing the break-even point

    The Géocom - CQCD consumer confidence index in March 2007 is at 98.2,
compared with 86.6 in September 2005. After reaching a low in the fall of
2005, consumer confidence has been strengthening constantly over the past year
and a half, and is now approaching the break-even point. Fall 2004 was the
last time the confidence index was significantly higher than 100 (103),
indicating a higher number of optimists than pessimists.
    "It should be noted that age is a determining factor in consumer
optimism," explains Mr. Gaston Lafleur, President of the CQCD. In the age
groups between 18 and 54, confidence rates range from 107.4 to 100.9, while
the rates for consumers aged 55-64 and 65 and over are 90.5 and 85.7
respectively. Mr. Lafleur concludes that, "compared with last year, the
balance sheet for Quebecers' spending intentions, that is, the difference
between those who plan to spend less than in 2006 and those who plan to spend
more, is positive for all categories of products and services."
    The survey polled a random sample of 1002 Quebecers between February 14
and 28 2007. It has a margin of error of 3.2% 19 times out of 20.

    The CQCD is the largest association representing the retail trade in
Quebec. Its membership encompasses all retail specialties and distribution
channels, including department stores, major food distributors, specialized
boutiques, pharmacies, hardware and home-renovation stores, franchise
concepts, independent branch stores and retailers, as well as major commercial
partners in the goods and services trade sector. The CQCD represents an
industry comprising more than 56,000 commercial establishments, more than
500,000 jobs, or nearly one in five Quebec workers, and more than $86 billion
in retail sales in 2006.

For further information:

For further information: Gaston Lafleur, President, Conseil québécois du
commerce de détail/Retail Council of Quebec, (514) 842-6681 ext. 200; Source:
Conseil québécois du commerce de détail/Retail Council of Quebec;
EXCEPTION for March 19, Telephone: from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Hotel
Fairmont le Reine Elizabeth, (514) 861-3511 or 1-800-441-1414, salon

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