TORONTO -- A new holiday shopping survey is giving retailers hope that consumers are ready to return to pre-pandemic shopping patterns.

Retail Council of Canada’s fourth annual Holiday Shopping Survey found that Canadians are more optimistic going into this holiday season than last year, and are ready to get back into physical stores and spend more money.

“I think the underlying message here is that consumers are ready to shop," Diane Brisebois, President and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada, told CTV News Toronto.

The survey found that 30 per cent of participants plan to start shopping before November and 36 per cent during November — higher numbers than last year.

Canadians will spend, on average, $792 leading up to the holidays, with Ontario shoppers spending more — an average of $863.

While many will still order gifts online, the survey found there is a desire to get back into malls and stores to interact with retailers face-to-face.

"We are all feeling it. That we want that connection, we want that in-store experience,” Brisebois said.

The survey found that 63 per cent want to make purchases in-store, compared with 37 per cent online.

However, shoppers are still concerned about COVID-19 protocols and want to shop early to avoid crowds. Another reason to shop sooner rather than later is due to concerns about supply chain issues that could make some products harder to find.

More than half of shoppers also said one of the most important things they look for when buying something is a sale, which is why 43 per cent plan to shop on Black Friday, 35 per cent on Cyber Monday and 34 per cent on Boxing Day.

The council says one trend that shows things may be returning to normal is that sales of fine clothing, jewelry and footwear are all expected to be up.

This time last year, the top sellers in clothing were items to lounge around in, like sweatpants and pyjamas.

“We do know that people are buying clothes to go out, versus what we would call leisurewear, like t-shirts and sweat pants. That’s to the benefit of apparel retailers who suffered quite a bit during the pandemic,” Brisebois said.

Gift cards are always a popular present, but this year, fewer people are planning to give them. Only 16 per cent said they will give gift cards this year, compared to 21 per cent last holiday season.