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About RBC > Media Newsroom > News Releases > Bah humbug? Not in Canada, as consumers reach new high in holiday season spending: RBC poll

Bah humbug? Not in Canada, as consumers reach new high in holiday season spending: RBC poll

  • Average holiday spend jumped to $735 from $709 in 2019
  • One-quarter of those polled spent more than they intended
  • Canadians are finding it challenging to save
  • NOMI Find & Save has helped users save over $1 billion since 2017

RBC poll: How much did Canadians overspend over the holiday season?

RBC poll: How much did Canadians overspend over the holiday season?

TORONTO, January 29, 2021 - In a holiday season where social distancing kept many families and friends apart, Canadian shoppers polled compensated by spending an average of $735 – the highest amount since the RBC Post-Holiday Spending & Saving Insights Poll began tracking these expenditures a decade ago.

Another record was set by those who spent more than intended (25% of all shoppers), going over budget by $588 on average – a 28% increase from $459 the previous holiday season. The biggest overspenders were in Ontario (29%), followed by residents of Atlantic Canada (27%), Quebec (25%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (22%), Alberta (20%) and B.C. (18%). By age group, Canadians 18 to 34 included the largest percentage of overspenders (38%); by gender, more men overspent than women (27% vs. 23%).

Two-thirds (67%) of those who spent more than they planned have yet to pay off their holiday bills. One quarter have immediate actions in mind to help take care of those expenses, such as cutting back on entertainment (24%) – one of the biggest holiday season expenditures – and daily living expenses (23%), while 16% expect to carry a balance on their credit card for at least two months.

Overall, Canadians polled identified a number of things they would do differently to prepare for the next holiday season, including setting aside savings on a regular basis (20%) and spending less/resisting any temptations to spend more than they’ve saved (16%).

One of the biggest challenges they now face: how to actually save money throughout the upcoming year. When asked how much extra they might be able to save in 2021, 50% responded ‘I have no idea’ and a further 22% stated they weren’t saving at all right now and didn’t think they’d have anything extra to set aside over the next 12 months.

“We know Canadians have the best of intentions about saving and that it can be difficult to set a budget and stick to it. In these uncertain times, we’re also seeing that, while some are able to save more than they thought because they are spending less, others are struggling to make ends meet as a result of the pandemic,” says Niranjan Vivekanandan, Vice-President, Term Investments & Savings, RBC. “That’s why we have NOMI Find & Save and NOMI Budgets in place, to help clients save and to simplify the budgeting process, regardless of the situation they are navigating. We are here to help in all instances.”

NOMI Find & Save has helped clients save more than $1 billion
NOMI Find & Save recently marked a major milestone in helping Canadians save in an effortless way: it has now found more than $1 billion for clients, since launching in 2017. Over the past year, NOMI Find & Save has helped clients save an average of $358 a month. NOMI Find & Save uses predictive
technology to automatically find extra money that it thinks won’t be missed, and sets that money aside as savings. NOMI Budgets uses artificial intelligence to take the thinking and manual calculator work out of creating a budget. It proactively analyzes a client’s spending history, recommends an appropriate budget and sends timely updates to help keep clients on track in a seamless and convenient way.

“When our poll asked Canadians what they would do with ‘found’ money, they had several ideas in mind – including paying down debt (35%), adding to their general savings (32%) and saving for a specific purpose (25%). Very few responded they didn’t know what they’d do with extra funds (8%),” added Vivekanandan. “Imagine what they could do with an extra $358 of ‘found’ money a month!”

RBC Post-Holiday Spending & Saving Insights Poll – Regional & Gender Comparisons

ALL RESPONDENTS

CAN

BC

AB

SK/
MB

ON

QC

AC

M

F

Average total holiday season spending

$735

$656

$660

$737

$797

$661

$906

$731

$738

Yes, overspent in holiday season

25%

18%

20%

22%

29%

25%

27%

27%

23%

Average overspent

$588

$348

$352

$371

$410

$1074

$649

$616

$557

OVERSPENDERS – ACTIONS TO PAY OFF EXTRA EXPENSES

CAN

BC

AB

SK/
MB

ON

QC

AC

M

F

Intend to cut back on day-to-day living costs

23%

24%

18%

22%

23%

23%

22%

21%

25%

Intend to cut back on lunches, coffees and entertainment

24%

25%

12%

22%

24%

31%

22%

23%

25%

Will carry on credit card for at least 2 months

16%

17%

16%

32%

16%

13%

16%

16%

17%

No idea how to pay these extra costs yet

7%

4%

2%

7%

9%

6%

8%

6%

8%

Have already paid extra costs

33%

44%

39%

26%

32%

28%

35%

32%

34%

ALL RESPONDENTS – SAVE PER MONTH

CAN

BC

AB

SK/
MB

ON

QC

AC

M

F

No idea how much I could save/month

50%

47%

43%

42%

51%

53%

51%

47%

52%

Not saving anything at all per month now

22%

25%

25%

33%

22%

17%

16%

23%

21%

ALL RESPONDENTS: USE FOR ‘FOUND’ $

CAN

BC

AB

SK/
MB

ON

QC

AC

M

F

Pay down debt

35%

28%

38%

48%

35%

31%

40%

34%

35%

Put into general savings

32%

36%

36%

37%

32%

25%

37%

32%

32%

Save for a particular purpose

25%

27%

22%

22%

26%

25%

21%

22%

28%

Invest

19%

18%

24%

19%

19%

21%

11%

23%

15%

No idea how I’d use ‘found’ $

8%

7%

8%

6%

8%

12%

3%

7%

9%

ALL RESPONDENTS: AVERAGE AMOUNT SPENT/CATEGORY

CAN

BC

AB

SK/
MB

ON

QC

AC

M

F

Toys

$77

$64

$79

$70

$86

$71

$82

$74

$81

Electronics (mobile devices, gaming consoles)

$104

$98

$90

$97

$109

$105

$118

$145

$66

Entertainment (books, video games, iTunes)

$62

$49

$69

$56

$40

$106

$52

$73

$51

Giving experiences to family, friends

$91

$110

$91

$100

$78

$84

$131

$108

$74

Gift cards

$121

$106

$88

$104

$127

$129

$150

$135

$107

Gifts for pets

$31

$23

$33

$26

$25

$46

$34

$35

$28

Giving to charities

$63

$55

$137

$38

$59

$49

$58

$89

$38

About the RBC Post-Holiday Spending & Saving Insights Poll
A total of 2,000 surveys were completed online by Ipsos among Canadians aged 18+ from January 4th to 6th, 2021 using the Ipsos I-Say Panel for this poll, which has been conducted on behalf of RBC since 2011. Quota sampling and weighting was employed in order to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Canadians, according to Census data. The precision of online polls is measured using credibility interval. In this case, the results are accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been surveyed. Credibility intervals will be wider for smaller subsets of the population. Where appropriate, tracking has been included to past years.

About NOMI Find & Save and NOMI Budgets
Since it launched in 2017, NOMI Find & Save has now helped clients find more than $1 billion. Savings for NOMI Find & Save users over the past year have averaged $358 a month, which can add up to almost $4,300 extra at year-end. Through predictive technology, NOMI Find & Save anticipates your overall monthly spending, finds extra money that it thinks won’t be missed and automatically sets it aside for you as savings. You can access your money at any time, through free transfers to your source chequing account. You can view your balance, pause and restart, 24/7 and the two-way transfer feature automatically transfers this money back when you need it. NOMI Budgets, introduced in 2020, has helped more than 950,000 customers set approximately 1.7 million budgets.

NOMI Budgets takes the thinking — and the manual calculator work — out of setting up a budget. It takes a close look at your spending and recommends a personalized monthly budget based on your habits, keeping you on track by sending regular updates through the RBC Mobile app’s budget tracker. By simplifying savings and the budgeting process, we’re making it easier for Canadians to manage their spending and make responsible financial decisions. More information is available at NOMI Find & Save and NOMI Budgets.

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 86,000+ employees who leverage their imaginations and insights to bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries. Learn more at rbc.com.‎

We are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how at rbc.com/community-social-impact.

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Media contact:
Kathy Bevan, RBC Corporate Communications, 647-618-2287