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Consumers remain cautious and expert to curtail spending this holiday


December 12, 2008
By TNS

Dec. 12, 2008 – The latest results from TNS Canadian Facts’ Consumer Confidence Index point to the emergence of a pessimistic consumer after years of healthy optimism.

The latest results from TNS Canadian Facts’ Consumer Confidence Index point to the emergence of a pessimistic consumer after years of healthy optimism. The overall Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 83.0 compared with 95.6 last month. To put this in perspective, the Index reached 105.7 last December.

“With confidence falling, the political gamesmanship in Ottawa is clearly an unnecessary sideshow to the real story of consumers who have become very concerned about their economic future,” said Richard Jenkins, vice-president of TNS Canadian Facts and director of the marketing research firm’s monthly tracking study.

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The Present Situation Index, which captures evaluations of the overall state of the economy and the employment situation, stands at 84.3, which is down from 103.0 last month. Only 16 per cent of Canadians think the current economy is at least fairly good. 

The Expectations Index, which measures consumers’ estimation of the economy, household income and employment in the next six months, also plummeted to depths not seen in the four and a half years that TNS Canadian Facts has been conducting the study. The index fell to 80.4 from 93.2 last month.

The Buy Index, which gauges the degree to which people think the current period is a good time to make major purchases, is the index that faltered the least. The index now sits at 84.1 compared with 88.1 in November. 

The survey also found that Canadians plan to spend $956 on holiday gifts, decorations or other holiday items this season. This is only slightly lower than December of last year (the estimate was $961). The lower levels of confidence are, however, finding expression in how consumers are thinking about their holiday spending. More than four times as many consumers expect to spend less this holiday season (36%) as plan to spend more (8%) than they did last year. 

“It will be difficult for the Canadian economy to weather the current global economic climate if consumers restrain spending in the face of both real and imagined economic problems,” added Jenkins.


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