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Canadian shopping expert offers tips for
passing back-to-school shopping stress test

TORONTO, August 2, 2011 – With back-to-school shopping season getting underway, a new MasterCard Canada survey reveals nearly two-thirds (65%) of Canadians find heading out to face the crowds stressful. When asked what would make shopping less of a headache, the top response was reducing long line-ups at the checkout.

This year, eight in ten (80%) back-to-school shoppers say they’ll be spending up to five hours hunting down backpacks and binders, and up to $500 on school supplies and the latest fall fashions.

"Back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to be so stressful," said Shoestring Shopper Cathie Mostowyk. "Simple things like making a list in advance, shopping for some of the basics on your own without the kids and choosing the right time of day to venture out can help you pass the back-to-school shopping stress test with flying colours."

Mostowyk offers parents these five back-to-school shopping tips:

Check your home school supplies inventory first. Chances are you still have supplies remaining from last year, especially if you have more than one child in school. So make sure you first check your inventory to see what you really need.

Plan ahead. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Canadians who plan on back-to-school shopping check out flyers and advertisements before heading to the mall and six in ten (62%) make a shopping list. However, just under three in ten (29%) say they would use coupons this back-to-school season, indicating a large majority of Canadians don’t take advantage of those possible savings. One-quarter of Canadians (26%) will research purchases online before hitting the stores.

Stick to what you need. Stick to your list! Your kids will try to convince you that they must have a certain item when they see it. If you already have the final list and the item is not on it, you can easily explain to your kids that it is not really needed. Even better, make the list with your children – that way, they will be involved in the whole process and cannot “forget” things.

Budget and set limits. Set a fixed budget on how much you will be spending on back-to-school items and make sure your child is aware of this. As you put things in the shopping cart, let your kids know how much of the budget is left.

Fix foot-tapping frustration. When asked what would help make their shopping experience less stressful, two-thirds (66%) of Canadians said shorter lines would alleviate stress – well ahead of using a shopping list (44%) or planning their shopping trip ahead of time (38%).

“MasterCard understands the need for speed at the checkout,” said David Orzel, Head of Market Development at MasterCard Canada. “That’s why MasterCard first introduced contactless payments in Canada in 2004, with its PayPass technology. Today, there are more than 21 million PayPass-enabled MasterCard credit cards that are helping Canadian shoppers save time with a simple tap at more than 17,000 merchant locations across the country.”

About Cathie Mostowyk
Cathie Mostowyk is the founder, president and senior writer of the acclaimed Shoestring Shopping Guide, one of Canada's best-selling resources for consumers. For over 20 years, she has been a respected shopping expert, columnist, public speaker and popular guest on various Toronto television and radio programs. www.shoestringshopping.com.

About the MasterCard Canada survey
The survey was conducted online by Leger Marketing on behalf of MasterCard Canada from July 11 to 14, 2011 with a sample size of 1,501 Canadians, 18 years of age or older. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5%.

About MasterCard PayPass
MasterCard PayPass is ideal for retail environments where speed and convenience are essential. MasterCard has led the way in bringing contactless payments technology to Canada in consumer categories such as quick-serve restaurants, grocery stores, drugstores, gas stations, vending machines, convenience stores, sports arenas, movie theatres, parking, book stores. There are more than 21 million MasterCard PayPass-enabled credit cards and devices in use at more than 17,000 merchant locations in Canada. Canadians travelling abroad have access to more than 300,000 PayPass-accepting merchants globally, while more than 92 million international MasterCard PayPass-enabled cards and devices have been issued worldwide that can be used at accepting merchant locations in Canada. For more information about MasterCard PayPass and a full list of participating merchants, visit www.mastercard.ca.

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 2010, $2.7 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 23 billion transactions each year and has the capacity to handle 160 million transactions per hour, with an average network response time of 130 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.

Media Contact:

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