For a few years, the holiday season looked very different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, life has returned to more normal but Canadians are now facing rising living costs and inflation. How is this affecting Canadians’ spending plans during the 2023 holiday season?

In this article, we look at holiday spending in Canada both during and after the pandemic. Continue reading to learn about holiday spending in Canada.

Holiday Spending Statistics for Canadians

  • On average, Canadians are planning to spend $1,347 during the 2023 holiday season. 
  • Most Canadians overspent during the holiday season with only 2% sticking to or spending less than their budget.
  • 7% of Canadian consumers overspent their budget by more than a thousand dollars
  • Canadians from Generation X are likely to spend the most during the 2023 holiday season. 
  • Almost a third of Canadians are planning to spend less on gifts. 
  • Half of Canadians are spending less on travel during the 2023 holiday season than the year before.
  • Canadians spent slightly more on entertainment in 2021 compared to before the pandemic.
  • Post-pandemic, Canadian consumers’ spending on themselves is up from 2020, but not to the level before the pandemic.
  • The amounts Canadians spend on family and friends are almost back to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Almost 2/3 of Canadian consumers say they like to show loyalty to Canadian brands.
  • 73% of consumers prefer to shop in stores with solid health measures in place.
  • Valentine’s Day spending in 2022 was down 13% compared to the previous year.
  • Half of Canadians planned to spend less than $50 on Easter celebrations. 

Holiday spending in Canada

The easing restrictions in 2021 encouraged many people to spend more during the holiday season. According to a survey by PwC Canada, Canadians planned to spend 29% more during the holiday season in 2021 compared to the previous year. The average amount was $1,593. This planned spending was 11% lower than before the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the 2023 holiday season, Canadians are planning to spend even less amid rising costs of living and inflation. On average, Canadians are planning to spend $1,347, which is the lowest amount in five years. 

Budgets Canadians set for themselves versus actual spending

Regardless of what Canadians plan to spend, data from Statista shows that most Canadians are likely to overspend during the holiday period, with only 2% of shoppers staying within their budget.

Canadians are most likely to overspend by up to $100, with 27% of consumers falling into this group. 19% of consumers overspend between $101 and $200 while 16% of people overspend by $401-$500. Surprisingly many Canadians go over the budget they set themselves by over $1,000 with 7% of consumers in this category.

Spending increases with wages

The people most likely to increase their holiday season spending were those with higher wages. Canadians earning over $60,000 were planning to spend $1,773 on average, compared to $919 for those earning less than $60,000. Individuals earning over $150,000 per year planned to spend around $2,451.

How does planned spending vary across the generations?

How much Canadians are planning to spend during the holiday season also varies between the generations. According to Statista, Canadians from Generation X are likely to spend the most followed by Baby Boomers. The average planned spending among Generation X is $1,983 and for Baby Boomers, it is $1,546 on average. Younger generations, especially those with children are most likely to feel the impact of rising costs and spend less. 

Spending on gifts during the holiday season

The spending on gifts dipped during the 2020 pandemic Christmas with many people having to be more careful with their money, but in 2021 not just returned to, but overtook spending before the pandemic.

That said, the difference in spending is not as striking as in other areas of Canadian holiday spending, with Canadians spending only $39 more on average in 2021 than in 2020. In 2021, spending on gifts was estimated to be $669 on average compared to $630 in 2020. The pre-pandemic gift spending in 2019 was $647 on average.

According to an Ipsos poll, 29% of Canadians said they were planning to spend less on gifts during the 2023 holiday season than they did in 2022. 49% said they were planning to spend about the same as last year. 

Spending on holiday travel

Before the pandemic, Canadians spent an average of $743 on travel during the holiday season. In 2020, due to pandemic restrictions, spending on travel more than halved with Canadians spending just $308 on travel. Although consumers allocated more money towards travel expenses during the 2021 holiday season, the average spending was still below the pre-pandemic numbers at $511.

This year, the rising costs are forcing some Canadians to rethink their holiday travel plans. 23% of Canadians are still planning to travel somewhere. However, 50% of the Canadians planning a trip will be spending less on their holiday travel and 51% will be travelling somewhere different to reduce the costs. 65% of Canadians said they could not afford to include travel in their holiday spending budget. 

Holiday season entertainment

On average, Canadians spent $204 on entertainment before the global pandemic. The money spent on entertainment during the 2020 holiday season didn’t drop as much as some might have expected, with the average Canadian still spending $166 on entertainment. 

In 2021, entertainment spending during the holiday season was slightly more than before the pandemic at $209.

Personal spending

During the pandemic, Canadians spent a lot less on themselves than they did before the pandemic amid insecurities over their finances. Before the pandemic, the average amount Canadians spent on themselves during the holiday season was $537 compared to just $272 during the pandemic.

In 2021, Canadians were again allocating more money to themselves during the holiday season. However, it was still nearly $60 less than before the pandemic at $478.

Spending on family and friends

Compared to the drop in personal spending, Canadian consumers’ spending on their family changed a lot less and the change in the spending on friends was minimal. Before the pandemic, Canadians were spending on average $869 on family and $118 on friends during the holiday season.

During the pandemic, these numbers dropped to $653 and $111. In 2021, spending on the family was up to $768 and friends $115. This year, 48% of Canadians are planning to focus on buying what their family needs compared to 35% in 2021 and 41% in 2022. 

Canadians are likely to look for bargains when buying gifts this year, 77% say they will shop around to find the best deals, and 71% are likely to choose cheaper brands. In addition, 45% will visit multiple stores to find the best deal. 

Spending on pets

Many pet owners like to purchase treats or gifts for their pets, too over the holiday season and their spending remained the same in 2020 and 2021. In both years, Canadian pet owners spent $33 on gifts and treats for their pets. This is slightly less than the pre-pandemic spending, which was $40.

Many consumers want to support Canadian companies and brands during the holiday season

62% of Canadian consumers say they like to show loyalty to Canadian brands and retailers when doing their holiday shopping. In addition, 55% say they want their dollars to stay in Canada to support the Canadian economy.

However, cross-border shopping is also popular. People who shop across the border say they do it because of better prices (83%), not being able to find what they wanted locally (68%), and more choices (62%).

COVID-19 still affected Canadians’ shopping choices in 2021

Even with restrictions lifted, many Canadians still changed their holiday shopping habits in 2021. 73% of consumers said they preferred to shop in places that have good health measures in place, while 59% said they would be more likely to shop in stores where admission is restricted to those who have been vaccinated.

While almost 80% of consumers still prefer to make their food shopping in-store, the popularity of online home delivery is growing. In 2020, only 7% of consumers used home delivery compared to 21% in 2021. Curbside pickups also increased in popularity, jumping from 33% in 2020 to 50% in 2021.

Valentine’s Day spending 2023

In 2023, the average spending on Valentine’s Day was $62.20, which was 2.8% lower than spending in 2022 when the average was $64. The spending has been declining since 2019 when Canadians spent $94 on Valentine’s Day. The total decline since before the pandemic is 33.8%. 

However, more Canadians were eating out on Valentine’s Day in 2023 compared to the year before. The number of Canadians having a meal in a restaurant to celebrate the day was up by 111%. The number of people who preferred to have dinner at home was down by 20.3% compared to 2022. 

Easter Spending 2023

The number of Canadians who were celebrating Easter in 2023 was 13.3% lower than the year before with 61.7% of Canadians saying they celebrated Easter. In 2023, the average spending on Easter was $54.60 per person, while half of Canadian consumers were planning to spend less than $50. This was similar to spending in 2022. 

Most of the Easter budget is spent on food, drinks, candies, and eating out, with 60% of consumers choosing this as their primary spending category. 19% of Canadians prioritize spending money on toys during the Easter holiday. The majority of Canadians, 72%, make their Easter shopping a few days before the holiday.

Outlook for the holiday season

Thanksgiving and Christmas are the most widely celebrated holidays with 97% and 96% respectively. 14% of the people surveyed will celebrate Hanukkah. The majority of Canadians 87% celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Some people have already started to plan for the holidays, with 42% already planning their Christmas, 36% planning Thanksgiving, 30% Hanukkah, and 27% New Year’s Eve. Christmas is the most popular holiday to get together and to give gifts with 77% saying they are gathering with friends or family and 84% giving gifts.

Christmas is also the holiday when people spend the most, with half of the population spending upwards of $200. Thanksgiving sees people spending between $100-$150, New Year’s Eve $50-$100 and Hanukkah $25-$75.

Most people, 90%, will spend extra money on food at Thanksgiving, 81% at Christmas, 76% on New Year’s Eve, and 56% at Hanukkah. New Year’s Eve is the holiday when most people, 57%, spend extra on alcohol.

Conclusion

In 2023, Canadians are tightening their budgets when it comes to holiday spending with intended spending at a five-year low. Younger Canadians and families are the most likely to feel the impact of rising prices and reduce their spending the most. 

Holiday season travel plans are also affected with many Canadians changing their travel plans or not travelling at all. In 2023, high inflation rates and rising cost of living also impacted Canadian spending on other holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Easter. 

Frequently Asked Questions

There are different estimates on how much Canadian holiday spending is. These estimates run from $792 to $1,841 for the 2021 holiday season.

Most Canadians overspend during the holiday season. Only 2% of Canadians say they stick to their budget or spend less than planned.

The statistics show that Canadian consumers prefer to shop Canadian brands, with 62% saying they want to be loyal to brands from Canada. 55% of Canadian consumers also want the money they spend to go towards supporting the Canadian economy.

Millennials are likely to spend the most during the holiday season, while people from the greatest generations are likely to spend the least.

In 2021, Canadians spent $669 on average on gifts. It was up from 2020 when Canadian gift spending was $630.

Sources