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Canadians worried that inflation will impact their holiday shopping this year: Numerator survey

With Canada Day around the corner, over two-thirds (71%) of shoppers plan to buy holiday items like food and gifts on sale this year.
Daniel Reale-Chin
Associate Editor, Convenience Store News Canada
Daniel Reale-Chin, a young man with a beard, smiles at the camera
image of Canada Day celebration

This years’ holiday season may look different from years prior. For one, government-mandated restrictions on gathering seem to be a thing of the distant past, allowing us to return to family- and friend-filled gatherings, meaning more food on the table, snacks bought from c-stores and gas to fuel our rides. And still this year, many Canadian consumers expect economic hardships to impact their plans. 

In the 2023 Canadian Holiday Intentions, a consumer survey report by Numerator, over half of respondents said they expect inflation or a potential economic slowdown to impact their 2023 holiday celebrations and shopping. To prepare for the coming holidays this year, Numerator surveyed 2,056 Canadian consumers this January and asked them how they intended to shop over 10 key holidays this year: Valentine’s Day, Easter, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The biggest take away for c-stores? The fact that over two-thirds (71%) of shoppers say they’ll buy holiday items on sale, with 51% of shoppers intending to buy fewer items in general this year. With less money intended to be spent on holidays this year, hopefully some of the key insights from the study will help you prepare your c-store for this years’ holiday. 

[Read more: "Canadian consumers pull back on spending amid high prices, interest rates: Experts"]

The most celebrated holidays 

No surprise, Christmas was the holiday that most Canadians expected to celebrate, with 96% of consumers answering definitely or probably when asked if they would celebrate the holiday. New Year's Eve and Thanksgiving tied for the second spot with 83%, followed by Easter at 80%, Canada Day and Halloween at 69%, Valentine’s Day at 63% and Labour Day at 53%. Diwali and Hanukkah ranked further down on the list, with 10% and 9% of respondents saying they would celebrate, respectively. 

For c-stores looking to capitalize on last-minute holiday shoppers, Canada Day and Labour Day represent the best time to do so. When asked when they planned their holidays, 37% of Canadians said they made plans for Canada Day one-to-two days ahead, with 35% reporting the same for Labour Day. Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentines Day, New Years Eve and Halloween are also planned for at somewhat last minute, with 57%, 53%, 51%, 48% and 46% of respondents saying they plan for these holidays one-to-two weeks in advance. 

The highest purchasing time for consumers seems to be around Christmas and Halloween, with 98% of respondents reporting that they intend to purchase something during those holidays. 

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Food intentions

Food is central to many holiday celebrations across the country. Whether it's eating in or ordering a meal to eat, the surge in demand for food throughout the holidays is inevitable: the study found that food and alcohol are the top two items purchased across the holidays. 

According to the survey, food is the most popular item consumers plan to purchase for eight out of ten key holidays: Valentines Day, Easter, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Diwali and Hanukkah. 

Unsurprisingly, Halloween may represent the greatest opportunity for c-stores, as 84% of consumers said they planned to buy candy at this time; a staple for c-stores. 

The holidays are also prime-time for gift giving, but the survey found that the types of gifts varied widely between celebrations. Numerator found that gift cards top the list for Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas, while flowers and plants are the most popular gifts for Valentine's Day. Toys and gifts took the top spot for Easter. The most popular holiday for gifts overall is Christmas, with 79% of consumers reporting that they intend to buy gifts, followed by Valentine’s Day, with 43% of consumers saying they intended to buy gifts. When asked what gifts they intend to purchase, between 29% to 45% of consumers said they intend to buy food or beverage gifts for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Diwali and Hanukkah. 

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Holiday spending on a budget

It has already been mentioned that more than half of consumers expect economic hardships to impact their holidays this year, but how exactly does that breakdown? Only 12% of survey respondents reported concerns over the impact inflation and the economy would have on their holidays this year, with 27% expecting those factors to have a slight impact on their spending, 36% expecting a moderate impact and 25% expecting the economy to have a significant impact on their holiday spending this year.  

Overall, the study found that most holiday shoppers planned to spend over $50 on their celebrations. About a third of shoppers said they intended to spend between $50 and $100 per holiday throughout the year, except on Christmas, when 78% of shoppers said they plan to spend more than $100. 

In order to save money, 71% of shoppers said they intended to buy items on sale, 51% intend to buy less, 43% intend to use more coupons, 40% intend to prepare budget friendly foods, 38% intend to shop at a dollar or discount stores, 25% said they plan to switch to store brands and 24% said they intend to travel less. 

Despite all this, more Canadians intended to celebrate both Valentine’s Day and Easter this year than last year. According to Numerator, around 80% of Canadians intended to celebrate Easter this year, and over a tenth of those people did not celebrate last year. Of those respondents, 61% of Easter celebrators planned to gather with family and friends this year, versus 52% last year; 33% intended to cook or bake, versus 25% last year; and 20% said they planned to give gifts, versus 17% last year. Nearly two-third (63%) of respondents said they expect to buy food, 43% expected to buy candy and 23% intended to buy gifts for Easter this year. 

With our next major holiday – Canada Day – less than three months away, hopefully this information will help your store capitalize on the holiday season.

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