December 1, 2016 12:45 pm
Updated: December 1, 2016 12:48 pm

41% of Albertans plan to spend less on Christmas this year

DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images
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‘Tis the season of giving’, but some Albertans are tightening their purse strings this Christmas and say the weak economy is to blame.

A recent survey commissioned by ATB Financial shows four in ten Albertans (41 per cent) intend to spend less on gifts this holiday season, compared to what they spent last year.

Of those who are planning to cutback, 19 per cent said they will spend a lot less than last year and 22 per cent said they will spend somewhat less.

About half of Albertans (48 per cent) said they plan to spend about the same as in 2015.

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Among those planning to reduce their holiday spending, 84 per cent said they are doing so “because of the economic downturn.” As of October, Alberta’s unemployment rate is 8.5 per cent, higher than the national average of 7 per cent.

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“Amid the holiday cheer – which we could really use – will be an undertone of sadness as the economic downturn makes life harder for many Albertans,” ATB Chief Economist Todd Hirsch said in the survey results.

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Albertans with a lower income were more likely to be cutting back this holiday season. About 44 per cent of people in households with annual income under $40,000 are planning to spend less, while 34 per cent of those with household incomes over $100,000 are planning to do the same.

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“There are signs that the provincial economy will pull itself out of recession next year, but this is cold comfort for those who are struggling in the here and now,” Hirsch said.

The survey also asked Albertans about their Christmas travel plans. The majority (69 per cent) said they don’t plan to hit the road. Of those staying home, 58 per cent cited the poor economy as the reason.

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The Albertans who are planning to get away for the holidays said they were mainly planning to visit another part of Canada, head to the United States or stay within the province.

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“The drop in retail spending is just one indication of the recession’s impact but it is a good reminder that it’s real people who feel it,” Hirsch said.

“From the owners, managers, employees and suppliers of retail stores to the tens of thousands of Albertans wondering how they are going to get by this winter, the “r word” is not an abstraction.”

The results came from an Ipsos poll of 802 Albertans, conducted online between Nov. 1 to Nov. 7, on behalf of ATB Financial.

The poll is accurate to within +/- 4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Weighting was employed to balance demographics to ensure the sample’s composition reflected that of the adult population, according to Census data.

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