How Much Do Canadians Spend on Christmas?

Jack Prenter, Founder of Dollarwise

The holidays often bring increased spending on gifts, food, drinks, preparation material, decorations, and a lot more. Especially if it’s snowy and people get cozy. 

According to some reports, Canadians still spend less on the holidays than before the Covid-19 pandemic, but more than in 2020. The trend of increased holiday spending seems to be increasing compared to the past few years but we won’t know for sure until we get a larger sample size. 

But how much do Canadians spend on Christmas? Let’s find out.

Key Christmas statistics in Canada

  • Overall Spend: The overall spend is between around $790 and $1,840, based on reports from 2021.
  • Average Spend per Person: Based on the overall spend in 2021, this puts the average spend per person at around $1,200 (+/- $100).
  • % of People that Spend on Family: The latest report on family spending mentions a number of $870 for 2021. If the trend has continued increasing, we can argue that the numbers for 2022 were (on average) around $900 of their total spending amount.

    Reportedly, around 77% of the people are gathering with family and/or friends so we can deduce that roughly 70% spend on family. Keep in mind that the $900 is an estimate based on ~8 people that would receive gifts from one person (if we assume that an average family has 4 members).
  • Are Xmas Sales Increasing: It is evident that Canadian spending on Christmas and the holidays is increasing, primarily due to getting back to how things were pre-pandemic. On top of that, a certain degree of inflation also plays a role in how much a person spends on average on gifts during the holidays.
  • How Does this Spending Compare to the US: Canadians and Americans spend roughly the same amounts on the holidays, with Canadians seemingly spending roughly 5-10% more on average.

    The Americans dedicate about 70% of their budget for Christmas spending while Canadians dedicate roughly 75%. Keep in mind, however, that both nationalities like to overspend and break their budgets.
  • Which Age Bracket Spends More: According to reports, Millennials spend the most out of all the generations. They average around $1,620 in spending (2021 data), Generation X averages $1,450, Baby Boomers spend roughly $1,370, and Generation Z $1,180.

    The most frugal spenders are from the Greatest Generation, with an average spending amount of $1,000.
  • When do People Start Shopping for Xmas: The majority of people buy Christmas gifts in November (roughly 40%). Next are people who buy in October, well before the holiday season (roughly 35%) and the rest are almost late to the party by buying in December (25%).
  • What % of People Shop Online: Curbside pickups are the most popular form of picking up Christmas gifts with more than 50% of Canadians opting for this choice in 2021 (arguably even more nowadays).

    Home delivery jumped to 21% in 2021, though this number might have stayed the same or changed just a little bit since a lot of people prefer going out to buy presents in a festive atmosphere. 

Average Canadian Christmas spending data

Out of 2,000 people who participated in the Statista study, roughly 35% of them still aren’t sure how much they will spend on the holidays. As for the rest, here’s a quick breakdown:

  • $1,000+: 13%
  • $600 – $999: 4%
  • $400 – $599: 14%
  • $200 – $399: 14%
  • $1 – $199: 8%
  • $0 (no spending): 12%

There are some single-percent changes in a few of the spending categories compared to 2022 but these are negligible. 

Spending over time

All types of spending have changed compared to pre-pandemic levels but it’s safe to say we’re seeing a ‘return to form’ in 2021 and 2022 regarding most spending categories. It’s also evident that spending habits are changing back to pre-pandemic levels and will seemingly continue to do so in the coming years. 

TypePre-Pandemic*Post-Pandemic*Change**
General~$1,150~$1,200+$50
Gifts~$640~$670+$30
Travel~$740~$510-$230
Entertainment~$200~$210+$10
Personal~$530~$480-$50
Family & Friends~$870 & ~$120~$770 & ~$115-$100 & -$5
Pets~$40~$35-$5

*average spend
**estimate

We can also deduce a very rough average to determine how much of their budgets people spend on themselves. 

NOTE: Since the values in the table are just averages, it must be mentioned that most people won’t spend thousands of dollars at once. Some might spend on family, friends, and gifts, but not on travel, entertainment, themselves, or pets. 

For the purpose of our calculation, we will assume that the person in our example has spent the amounts mentioned in the ‘post-pandemic’ column. 

Their total spend would be $3,990 (all spend types summed up). Personal spend equals $480, which is roughly 12% of their total spend. We can reasonably assume that Canadians spend between 10-15% of their overall holiday spend on personal gifts. 

Christmas spending in Canada vs USA

TypeCanadaUSADifference*
General~$1,200~$1,000+$200
Gifts~$670~$850-$180
Travel~$510NO DATA??
Entertainment~$210NO DATA??
Personal~$480~$930-$450
Family & Friends~$885~$640+$245
Pets~$35NO DATA??

Consumers in the US spend less overall, and less on gifts for family & friends. However, they spend roughly (estimate) $450 more on personal gifts compared to Canadians. 

Online shopping

Online shopping frequency increased in 2020 with the beginning of the pandemic and a large part of Canadians still use this method to purchase holiday items. And while some enjoy the convenience that comes with online shopping, others prefer to visit a store in person to bask in the holiday spirit and decorations. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the stats, based on a study done by Retail Insider

Shopping LocationPercent of Consumers*
Online Retail81%
Big Box Stores81%
Shopping Centres77%
Small, Local Business54%
Craft Fairs34%

*that would shop in the given location

Personal finance

While many Canadians like to set a budget and attempt to stick to it, most fail to do so with just 2% succeeding in staying within the lines they drew. Most consumers (27%) overspend by roughly $100, 19% fall into the $101-$200 range, and 16% spend between $401 and $500 over their budget. 

Perhaps most surprisingly, roughly 7% of Canadians breach their budget by more than $1,000

It’s clear that most consumers overspend during the holidays but what could be the reasons for this? 

For starters, most retailers offer large discounts on a wide range of products. These offers are usually too tempting to pass on which is why most consumers end up buying them, even if they hadn’t planned on it. 

Rinse and repeat this process a couple of times and you’ll find yourself spending well over your budget. 

Furthermore, people may also be influenced by their emotional side. Take for instance a family of 4 that sticks to the necessities when it comes to financial spending throughout most of the year. Once the holiday season arrives, they’ll generally spend more to break the status quo and enjoy the family time they have. 

Are people concerned about paying for Christmas in 2023?

As we’ve seen from the data listed in some of the previous sections of this article, holiday spending amounts are slowly rising to pre-pandemic levels. However, how do inflation and unemployment rates influence Canadians’ willingness to spend some of their money on Christmas? 

For starters, inflation levels have been steadily decreasing compared to December 2022/January 2023. 

Annual reports chart

Source: TradingEconomics

Canada saw a 6.3% inflation rate in December 2022. By October 2023, this rate has halved to 3.1%. This change has definitely had a positive effect on Canadians’ outlook on holiday spending which is why we might see ‘normal’ spending amounts in December 2023. 

On the other hand, unemployment rates have gone up in recent months, starting in May. 

Annual reports chart

Source: TradingEconomics

While this increase doesn’t seem drastic, let’s look at numbers instead of percentages. 

Canada currently has a workforce equaling roughly 21.3 million people. The number of unemployed people in April 2023 was around 1.06 million. 

Month & YearUnemployment Rate# of Unemployed People*Trend**
April 20235%~1,065,000+/-
May 20235.2%~1,107,600+42,600
June 20235.4%~1,150,200+42,600
July 20235.5%~1,171,500+21,300
August 20235.5%~1,171,5000
September 20235.5%~1,171,5000
October 20235.7%~1,214,100+42,600
November 20235.8%~1,235,400+21,300

*Estimate
**Compared to previous month

Based on this information, we can deduce that between April 2023 and November 2023, there was a 0.8% unemployment rate increase which equals to roughly 170,400 people losing their jobs. 

That’s 170,400 people who will spend less on the holidays than if they were still employed, potentially decreasing the average overall Christmas spend in 2023. 

If we take everything into account, there is a high possibility of minimal fluctuations between 2022 and 2023 Christmas spending. But there’s one more metric that we still haven’t considered – consumer outlook. 

Are people planning to spend less in 2023?

A study by PwC shows that an overwhelming majority (76%) of Canadians are downbeat about the economy and life cost concerns but they don’t believe this will impact their holiday spending. In fact, many believe that they’ll spend the same, or even more than in 2022. 

It’s also worth noting that 91% of Canadians say that product prices have the biggest impact on their holiday spending habits, with most chasing discounted products. 

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