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Press Releases

One in five Canadians admit to being a Last-Minute Larry or Lucy: Holiday Shopper Profiles Revealed

Canadian shoppers classified according to behaviour, spend and attitude

TORONTO, November 21, 2007 – With just over one month until Christmas Eve, holiday decorations are in full swing, the malls are bustling and the familiar smells of peppermint and hot chocolate are all around. But as the happy holiday season approaches, anxiety levels of Canadian shoppers have just moved into overdrive as they prepare their shopping lists, budgets and numerous trips to the malls. To better understand and prepare for the shopping season, MasterCard Canada today revealed insight into Canadian shoppers with the MasterCard Canada Holiday Shopper Classification. Divided into four categories, the findings paint the picture of what all shoppers endure, appreciate and dread as the holiday shopping season is upon us. The Holiday Shopper Classification revealed four profiles: stressed for the season shoppers (19%); pragmatic shoppers (30%); shop-aholics (24%); super-planners (27%).

“The MasterCard Holiday Shopper Classification provides an in-depth look into Canadians’ shopping behaviour during the holidays,” says David MacDonald, Vice President, Environics Research Group. “Across the country, Canadians look forward to the holidays, but how they approach the season and their actions vary significantly by age, gender and location.”

The MasterCard Canada Holiday Shopper Classification was developed by surveying Canadians about how they shop during the holiday season, who they shop for and how they budget. Canadian holiday shoppers have been grouped into four categories that support specific shopping behaviour and attitudes. According to the findings, almost half of Canadians (48%) have 10 or more people on their gift list. Atlantic Canadians (61%), Manitobans/Saskatchewans (65%) and Albertans (60%) lead the charge in this category. One in ten (10%) Canadians confess they’ll spend more than $2,000 this holiday season and another one-third (34%) will spend under $500. One-third (34%) of shoppers claim they will complete their lists with only one or two trips to the mall, but the majority of Canadians (40%) say they’ll need three to five trips this holiday season.

“We’re challenging Canadians to learn a little bit more from Santa this year by making a list and checking it twice,” said Jennifer Reed, Vice President, Public Affairs, MasterCard Canada. “The holidays are a time to rejoice and celebrate. And a small time investment upfront to prepare a shopping plan, gift list and budget means more time to be with family and friends.”

Canada’s Holiday Shoppers Revealed
MasterCard Canada invites consumers to log onto to classify their shopping behaviour and learn how to better survive the season.

Stressed for the Season Shopper - 19% of Shoppers: Last-Minute Larry (or Lucy)
We all know one of them, but few of us would admit to falling into this category ourselves. One-fifth of Canadians (19%) land in the most disorganized category of them all – last-minute shoppers. At the risk of offending half of the Canadian population, we’re not surprised to report that this group is dominated by men (67%). They don’t even bother with a shopping list; they don’t take a planned approach to the holidays; they go over budget and spend more time wandering around, browsing for ideas, than actually buying gifts for the holidays. They spend more than average and their bills often exceed $2,000. Because of their disorganized approach, you’re likely to run into Larry in the mall on Christmas Eve as he scrambles to find something for yet another person he forgot about this holiday season.

Advice: As you distribute your holiday gifts, keep a list of these people so you know who to shop for next year, and you’re headed for success in 2008. As you start to pay your bills track what you’ve spent and plan ahead for next year.

Pragmatic Shoppers - 30% of Shoppers: Sensible Susie (or Stephen) Shopper
This shopper profile represents almost one-third of shoppers (30%) in Canada. This group has a slightly male skew, with just over half (52%) represented by the Canadian male population. They are more likely to live in Alberta or British Columbia. These shoppers don’t overindulge during the holiday season, but still can’t help but feel slightly more stressed as they struggle to stay in control and balance everything from their cheque books to their timelines. Budgeting almost comes naturally to them, and is made more manageable as many spend less than $250 during the season. Their holiday shopping is often done within five hours with usually only one or two big trips to the mall.

Advice: Add in holiday cheer to your shopping list and use your time saved to enjoy hot chocolate, friends and family this holiday season.

Shop-aholics - 24% of Shoppers: Super Shopper Sheila (or Sean)
The shoppers of this group love to make shopping lists, they love to make multiple trips to the malls and they love to spend money during the holidays. They invest more time shopping than any other group – but mostly because they’re constantly adding names to their list. And no surprise, their love of the holidays tends to put them over budget – though not as badly as Last Minute Larry. While males dominate the Last-Minute Larry category, women (69%) rule the shop-aholic category. But surprisingly, it’s made up of a slightly older age category (55-64) who are likely homemakers or employed part-time. They spend more time than average shopping for gifts, but likely because they’re shopping for more people. They go over budget and are most likely to spend over $2,000 this holiday season. They’re moms, but moms to adults  rather than young children. Ontarians and Atlantic Canadians beware – Super Shopper Sheila may be flying through a mall near you this holiday season.

Advice: It’s not about how much money you spend, but finding time to spend with family and friends. Try to get a head start on the holiday season with your planning. Before you holiday-shop, take a few minutes to look at your list and put a dollar amount next to each person on that list.

Super-Planners - 27% of Shoppers: Budget Betty (or Bob)
One-quarter (27%) of Canadians land in the most careful and cautious consumer shopping group. More women (59%) than men fall into this category, and moms represent one-quarter (24%) of this group. They are mostly middle aged (35-64). They spread their shopping out over one to two months to make the most of their time, money and deals. Most of this group manage to get their holiday shopping done in less than two hours, but, they spend time outside the malls making decisions and cross referencing everything from the latest electronics to the best deal on wrapping paper, even before they head out the door. They keep their lists to a minimum, and spend less than $500 during the season.

Advice: Keep up the good work, and share your shopping expertise with others this holiday season.

For all Canadians planning to do any holiday shopping this year, consider these tips to get through the season:

Create a budget. Take the time to create a realistic budget that includes all of your gift giving plans, entertaining and travel requirements. Prepare a budget before you begin your holiday shopping and plan according to what you can comfortably afford to spend. Save credit card receipts and update your budget to include where you may have gone over or under in your spending for a better understanding of your accurate spending behaviour.
Plan ahead. It’s never too late to start saving for the holidays. If you know you’re planning to spend a lot this holiday season, put aside part of your needed spending money each month or each pay cheque. Then, comfortably pay for purchases with your credit card, knowing that they’re all budgeted for. It’s never too late, and you still have a few weeks before the holidays!
Schedule your shopping. If you’re one of the shoppers who leaves everything to the last minute, schedule shopping into your calendar. Pick three days between now and the holidays and make the time to get your holiday errands done.
Do your research. Take the time to do your research and shop for the best prices. Explore online shopping to save money this holiday season. Be thorough and patient, and you may find a great sale.
Protect yourself. It gets busy during the holiday season, so be careful and never leave your purse, wallet, credit or debit card unattended. Protect yourself from fraud by guarding your personal information, such as credit card and PIN numbers, whenever you use them.
Don’t overthink it. Don’t stress trying to find the perfect gift. Pick a few stores you know your family and friends will like, and purchase gift cards. They make for easy last minute ideas and there’s no fancy wrapping involved. 
Make it a family event. For those with children, involve them from the start. When you’re making shopping lists, ask them to help you come up with gift ideas for friends and family. Bring them along for the shopping experience and teach them about budgeting. Ask children to create homemade wrapping paper and cards.
Don’t shop alone. Invite a friend or relative along whenever you’re shopping. It’s great company and you can exchange great gift giving ideas along the way.
Dress for the experience. If you’re planning a day of mall shopping, dress comfortably, check your winter coat and pack snacks and water to make it through the day.
Enjoy the holidays. Whether you’re out shopping or spending time with friends and family, be sure to take the time to enjoy the holidays. Relax, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and have a safe and happy holiday season.

About MasterCard Worldwide
MasterCard Worldwide advances global commerce by providing a critical economic link among financial institutions, businesses, cardholders and merchants worldwide. As a franchisor, processor and advisor, MasterCard develops and markets payment solutions, processes over 16 billion transactions each year, and provides industry-leading analysis and consulting services to financial institution customers and merchants. Through its family of brands, including MasterCard®, Maestro® and Cirrus®, MasterCard serves consumers and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. For more information go to

About the survey
The survey was conducted by Environics Research Group on behalf of MasterCard Canada from October 18-24, 2007. The telephone survey is based on a randomly selected sample of 1,005 Canadians ages 18+.  With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Media contact:

Jill Anzarut or Don Blair
Environics Communications
416-969-2708 or 416-969-2726