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Canadians report shopping early, stock shortages ahead of Christmas 2021: Poll

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With all that's going on in the world, a new poll confirms what you might already be thinking - Christmas is going to be a lot different this year. As Catherine Urquhart reports, people say they're feeling more stressed this year - and that's impacting their holiday shopping – Dec 2, 2021

Heading into the holiday season, supply chain woes have Canadians turning to early shopping and, in many cases, still having trouble finding what they’re looking for, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by independent pollster the Angus Reid Institute, found that four in 10 online shoppers were having trouble finding some products they were looking for, while just over half of in-person shoppers were having the same problem.

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The findings come amid global supply chain challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, labour shortages, shipping backlogs, and in Western Canada, major storm damage to British Columbia’s transpiration network.

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Angus Reid Institute president Shachi Kurl said concerns about the supply of goods also appear to be pushing Canadian shoppers to the malls earlier than usual.

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“We’re already finding that three in 10, nearly one-third of shoppers, are telling us they’ve already started their holiday shopping process, they’ve already started buying gifts because of news around supply chain issues, as well as their own personal experiences of not finding what they’re looking for,” Kurl said.

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Whether or not those anxieties would be borne out by circumstances remained to be seen, Kurl added — noting that six per cent of respondents said they actually planned to start shopping later, potentially waiting for supply chain issues to resolve.

“Is this sense of anxiety around, ‘Oh my gosh the things aren’t going to be there so I better shop now,’ is that real, or is it something that a week or two from now as containers start to clear the port … does that resolve itself?” she asked.

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“Or are we into a situation where those 30 per cent who are getting a jump on shopping actually are onto something?”

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Supply chain and stock issues weren’t the only concerns causing Christmas shopping anxiety, the poll found.

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More than half of respondents (53 per cent) said this season felt more emotionally stressful than usual, while 41 per cent said it also felt more economically stressful than prior years.

Younger women and lower-income Canadians disproportionately reported feeling increased financial stress this season.

Three in 10 respondents said they planned to spend less than in previous holidays, two in 10 said they planned to spend more while 44 per cent said they’d spend the same as usual.

The Angus Reid Institute survey was conducted online from Nov. 26 – 29, 2021 among a representative randomized sample of 2,005 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. 

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