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‘Tis the Season to Spend: Canadians Break the Bank before Santa’s Arrival

MasterCard Canada survey reveals who’s naughty, who’s nice, and how few Canadians check their budgets twice during the holiday season

TORONTO, November 15, 2010 – With less than six weeks until the holidays, the stores are filled with eager shoppers, and enthusiastic bargain hunters. But according to a new survey by MasterCard Canada, nearly half (48%) of Canadians admit they have gone over their holiday budget before the holidays have arrived. Only one in ten (11%) Canadians start budgeting during the first half of the year, and another seven per cent confess they prepare their budgets only after the shopping is done.

“The holiday season can be the most expensive time of year, and to help make it through the season on track, Canadians need to make their budget and lists early, and check them twice,” said Julie Wilson, Director, Public Affairs, MasterCard Canada. “The season is busy enough with shopping, decorating and hosting holiday parties, that budgeting often falls far down on the list of priorities. Start early, and save a little each month to make it through the season on budget, and even with a little extra to treat yourself.”

The list goes on
According to the survey, Canadians spend on average $1,100 during the holidays, and one-quarter admit they spend between $1,000 and $5,000 during the holidays.

  • When asked how much they spend per person, nearly one-third (29%) of shoppers report they plan to spend between $21 and $50 per person.
  • Surprisingly, women are not the big spenders during the holidays. Almost twice as many men (27%) than woman (16%) dish out over $100 for each person on their gift list.
  • More shoppers over 50 (27%) also plan to spend over $100 compared to those ages 18 – 29 (12%) and those in the 30 – 49 age category (20%).

“It’s never too early to think about next year’s shopping list. Even if you’re heading over budget, track your spending closely and you’ll have a realistic idea of how much you truly need to stay on budget,” added Wilson. “For the few Canadians who manage to resist the season’s sales and come in under-budget, put aside your winnings for the year ahead and you’ll have more reason to celebrate next year’s holiday season.”

Before you head to the mall, or reach for your mouse, consider the following to stay balanced this holiday season:

  1. Set a budget. Only one-third (38%) of Canadians say they create a budget for the holidays. Without a budget you may spend more money than you intend. Create a holiday budget in January and stick to it throughout the year.

  2. Know your limitations. Beyond setting a budget with a certain dollar figure in mind, decide how much money you should spend on gift giving and each person on your list; decorations; holiday parties; and the unexpected. This budgeting technique will keep you in line and make sure you’re not over budget before the holidays start!

  3. Make a shopping list. Record everyone on your gift list and how much you can afford to spend on each person. According to MasterCard Canada, one-third of Canadians spend between $21 and $50 per person. A shopping list will help you stay on track even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping.

  4. Shop with a friend. MasterCard Canada reports that only one-quarter (27%) of Canadians can say they don’t go over budget. For everyone else, it’s wise to shop with your spouse, friends or family members who can help limit your spending and keep you company during stressful shopping days.

  5. Plan for the party. Just because you are hosting a holiday party doesn’t mean you need to pay for everything. Ask guests what they can bring – whether it’s food, drinks, decorations or games. Everyone will be more than happy to chip in for a potluck celebration.

About the survey:
The survey was conducted by Environics Research Group between September 29 and October 3, 2010. A total of 1,000 Canadian respondents 18yrs+ were interviewed by telephone. The margin of error is +/-3.10% at 95%.

About MasterCard Worldwide
As a leading global payments company, MasterCard Worldwide prides itself on being at the heart of commerce, helping to make life easier and more efficient for everyone, everywhere. MasterCard serves as a franchisor, processor and advisor to the payments industry, and makes commerce happen by providing a critical economic link among financial institutions, governments, businesses, merchants, and cardholders worldwide. In 2009, $2.5 trillion in gross dollar volume was generated on its products by consumers around the world. Powered by the MasterCard Worldwide Network – the fastest payment processing network in the world – MasterCard processes over 22 billion transactions each year, has the capacity to handle 140 million transactions per hour, with an average network response time of 140 milliseconds and with 99.99 percent reliability. MasterCard advances global commerce through its family of brands, including MasterCard®, Maestro®, and Cirrus®; its suite of core products such as credit, debit, and prepaid; and its innovative platforms and functionalities, such as MasterCard PayPass™ and MasterCard inControl™. MasterCard serves consumers, governments, and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. For more information, please visit us at www.mastercard.com. Follow us on Twitter: @mastercardnews.

For more information about responsible holiday shopping, or to schedule an interview with Julie Wilson about holiday budgeting tips, please contact:

Amanda Santino
Environics Communications
416-969-2756
asantino@environicspr.com

Sarah McConnell
Environics Communications
416-969-2717
smcconnell@environicspr.com