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

– 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