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Cost-saving strategies for holiday gift giving

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on December 11th, 2023

Inflation doesn’t have to be the grinch that stole Christmas.

But it’s definitely making it a challenge.

Canadian consumers told PWC Canada they each expect to spend an average of $1,635 this holiday season, a 13 per cent increase from 2022.

The good news is there are numerous ways to curb your holiday spending. Canadians have adjusted their gift-giving tactics, including a reduction of big gift exchanges for smaller variations, according to Rakuten.ca’s Holiday Spending Survey in partnership with Ignite Labs.

“Offsetting the financial strain of one of the highest shopping periods of the year is often a priority for many Canadians and we’re seeing increasing numbers of consumers looking at ways they can save, whether it be shopping sales or stacking deals,” says Jennifer LaForge, General Manager at Rakuten.ca. “We’ve been seeing a lot more conscious consumers, especially those looking for everyday savings to balance the high-spend holiday season with the rest of the year.”

The survey found that Canadians plan to use an average of five cost-saving strategies. They include:

  1. 75 per cent actively looking for sales/offers
  2. 61 per cent planning to use loyalty programs
  3. 35 per cent planning activities instead of gifts
  4. 56 per cent shopping earlier to spread out expenses.
  5. 33 per cent are planning to drop some recipients from their lists

Practicality counts too. When thinking of what they would like to receive themselves as holiday gifts this year, many Canadians surveyed said they would like to receive practical items they need (63 per cent), followed by gift cards (53 per cent), experiences (28 per cent) and lastly luxury items (26 per cent).

Consider using some of these holiday shopping or gift-giving strategies to curb your spending this year:

Set a budget, stick to it – Without a budget, you are almost guaranteed to overspend. While narrowing down your gift list can be a challenge, it should be your first step. Set the total amount you wish to spend and how much you want to spend on each person. Do the numbers match? If not, you need to narrow down your gift list or cut back on gift costs. The budget should also include gift wrapping supplies as well as shipping costs for packages.

Shop with cash -You're likely to spend less when you use cash versus a credit card. It also helps you avoid accruing credit card debt into the new year. Carry large bills so you’ll be less likely to break them on smaller impulse purchases.

Stack savings -If the gift you want to buy is 20 per cent off, but the store is having a no tax sale on the weekend - wait. Keep a close watch on flyers and online advertising to ensure your dollar goes the furthest. If you didn’t take advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday don’t despair, many retailers often start some of their best sales before Christmas.

Use Loyalty Programs & Cash Back -Loyalty programs offering cash back or points systems can come in handy. Do you get discounts through work for certain products? It’s a great time to take advantage.

Make something -Try knitting a hat, baking cookies for co-workers or making dinner for a friend. These are sometimes the most thoughtful gifts because it requires you give of your time.

Stocking stuffers -Switch the focus from big, expensive items to smaller, meaningful gifts to place in others' holiday stockings. This could be everything from a gift card to bath items.

Host a gift exchange -Each person brings one small, inexpensive gift (set a limit of, for example, $20). Everyone draws a number, then picks a present from the pile in order of the number they drew. You can choose a new present from the pile or steal a gift from someone else. You never know what gift you'll take home which is a big part of the fun!

Buy a group gift - Choosing gifts for each person in a family can be expensive. Instead, consider one gift the whole family can enjoy such as movie or seasonal park passes.

As financial pressures make the holidays a bigger challenge this year, the key is to be thoughtful - but realistic - about what you can afford. Happy gift hunting!

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