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Consumer outlook more positive in December


January 4, 2010
By Amanda Ryder

Jan. 4, 2010 – The RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index rose eight percentage points in
December, as consumers were less likely to delay major purchases and
their job anxiety fell significantly.

The RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index rose eight percentage points
in December, as consumers were less likely to delay major purchases and
their job anxiety fell significantly. As the new year begins, most
Canadians are exercising financial prudence, with three-in-four (75 per
cent) paying for their holiday spending with money on hand instead of
incurring debt and most (58 per cent) not planning to shop for
post-holiday deals in January.

Currently, Canadians are divided regarding the overall state of the
economy: 51 per cent view it as good and 49 per cent view it as bad.
Looking ahead, three-in-five Canadians (60 per cent) expect the
Canadian economy to improve over the next year, while only 17 per cent
expect it to worsen. This optimism was also reflected in a significant
drop in the percentage of Canadians who plan to delay major purchases,
such as cars, vacations and appliances, due to current economic
conditions (47 per cent in December versus 63 per cent in November).

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"Canadians are becoming more optimistic but as this index shows,
their focus remains on managing day-to-day expenses with many finding
it hard to save for their retirement or their children's education,"
said David McKay, group head, Canadian Banking, RBC. "In 2010, we're
continuing to reach out to our 10 million customers with advice that
will help them save money, save time and grow their investments."

National highlights include:

– Job Anxiety: One-in-five Canadians (21 per cent) say that a member of
their household is worried about losing their job or being laid off,
down significantly from one-in-four (27 per cent) last month. With the
exception of British Columbia, where job anxiety is unchanged, job
anxiety is down across the country, with the lowest levels in Manitoba
and Saskatchewan (seven per cent) and Atlantic Canada (10 per cent).

– Personal Financial Situation (Overall): The percentage of Canadians
who think that their personal financial situation is worse than it was
three months ago remains fairly constant (38 per cent in December
compared to 39 per cent in November). However, there has been a slight
improvement in the percentage of Canadians who think that their
personal financial situation will improve in the next three months,
which has risen slightly (30 per cent in December compared to 27 per
cent in November). Canadians are more optimistic in the longer term,
with more than four-in-ten Canadians (43 per cent) expecting their
personal economic situation to improve over the next year (compared to
38 per cent in November).

– Interest Rates: A majority of Canadians (57 per cent) think interest
rates are going up in the next six months, a significant increase from
the November poll (52 per cent). Four-in-ten Canadians (38 per cent)
expect that interest rates will stay the same over the same period.

"As noted in our recent economic forecast, the Canadian economy
is set to grow, with real GDP rising by 2.6 per cent in 2010 and 3.9
per cent in 2011," said Craig Wright,
senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC. "While challenges
remain, continued improvement in the labour market in 2010 will
contribute to an eventual decline in the unemployment rate and provide
ongoing support for consumer spending."


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