Here's what Ontario experts say you need to know about holiday spending this season
There is some optimism in the tea leaves this holiday season even as high prices and interest rates pinch the pockets of Ontarians – that’s the message from industry experts.
CTV News Toronto spoke to retail, travel, agriculture and food specialists to find out what consumers need to know as the advent calendar ticks down in days.
Here’s their insights and tips.
The retail industry is looking “cautiously optimistic” this holiday season, Lisa Hutcheson, Managing Partner of Toronto-based J.C. Williams Group, said.
In large part, she said that’s because consumers are spending differently than in previous years, taking advantage of deals and discounts.
She pointed to Black Friday and Cyber Monday results – up more than seven per cent and almost 10 per cent respectively – as a testament to this.
Customers are factoring in inflation when they look for deals, she added, with the Bank of Canada holding its key interest rate steady at five per cent on Wednesday.
“[They are] proactively looking at ways to get the most value for their dollar,” Hutcheson said.
Eighty-three per cent of 1,507 Canadians surveyed by consulting firm KPMG between Oct. 20 and Nov. 2 said they are being more cautious about spending money this year compared with last year.
Hutcheson’s message: “As a consumer, if you see something that fits within your budget, you should buy it.”
Like the retail industry, there’s a sense of optimism when it comes to travel this holiday season, Barry Choi, a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert, said.
“We’re seeing overall record demand. I’m hearing numbers exceeding pre-pandemic,” he added.
While travel is very expensive right now, Choi said even families cutting back are prioritizing travel as a luxury expense they are willing to splurge on.
To save on travel, Choi recommends planning as far out as possible, flying between Tuesday and Thursday and taking night flights, which tend to be cheaper than mornings.
"The demand for travel is clearly back,” Choi said.
Christmas tree prices in Canada are up five per cent compared to last year, according to Shirley Brennan, Executive Director of Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario.
“That is solely because the cost of running farms has gone up,” Brennan said.
She listed the high cost of fertilizer, insurance, hydro and labour as a handful of reasons for the uptick in agricultural costs.
As a result, she said there has been an increase in the sales of smaller trees. “There is a price point for everyone,” she said.
Brennan encourages consumers to step outside of their comfort zone to explore different species, sizes, and prices this year.
Traditional holiday dishes may need to stay on the backburner this season, according to a new report by Dalhousie University's Agri-Food Analytics Lab.
In particular, the cost of turkey is up five per cent, potatoes are up 6.6 per cent and carrots have risen 12.8 per cent.
The report lists adverse weather, geopolitical events, and labour disputes as some factors driving up the cost.
However, the lab points out that big meals also mean leftovers, which in turn lowers the overall per-person cost of a meal to about $9.48.
-With reporting by Hannah Alberga, CTV News Toronto Multi-Platform Writer