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Ontario residents planning to spend less this holiday season amid higher living costs: survey

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A new report suggests many Ontario residents plan to spend less this holiday season as they feel the strain of inflation on living costs.

The survey from the Angus Reid Institute found that this year one in five Canadians plan to spend less in the month ahead than they have in previous years.

In Ontario, that number was even higher. More than a third of Ontarians surveyed (36 per cent)said they planned to spend less this year.

“The holiday shopping season may be underway, but the Grinch of inflation continues to dampen holiday cheer,” the institute said in a release.

The survey found that 58 per cent of respondents in Ontario are finding it either difficult or very difficult to feed their households when they consider grocery costs.

In terms of housing, 45 per cent said those costs are either tough or very difficult, while 51 per cent said they were manageable or easy.

Some 30 per cent of Ontarians said that household debt is a major source of stress while 37 per cent said it is a minor source of stress.

Shoppers mill through Toronto's Eaton Centre shopping centre on the last day before Christmas, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Cameron

Over the past few months, people in the province have cut back on spending in a number of ways. Those include cutting back on discretionary spending (68 per cent), spending less on Christmas preparations (56 per cent) and delaying major purchases (46 per cent).

Some 39 per cent of respondents also said their cost-saving measures include scaling back donations or charitable giving, while 34 per cent said that they would cancel or scale back planned travel.

The organization said that the data show Canadians across the country are feeling the pinch as part of a trend that is continuing for a second year.

“Underscoring how economic conditions continue to drag, the sting of a second year of high consumer prices affecting everything from the cost of vitamins to bread and rent has majorities saying they will spend less on holiday preparations this year (55 per cent) and have cut back on discretionary spending overall in recent months (61 per cent),” Angus Reid said. “This continues a trend that emerged last year, when similar numbers said they had cut back.”

Overall, some 46 per cent of Ontario respondents said they are worse off financially now than they were a year ago while 41 per cent said they were the same, and 12 per cent sad that they are better off.

“The Bank of Canada may be relieved by the recent deceleration of inflation as it considers its next policy rate decision in early December, but Canadians appear more discouraged than not as they look ahead to 2024,” the report said.

A third of respondents in Ontario (33 per cent) said they expect their financial situation to be worse in a year from now, while 19 per cent said they expected it to be better, 37 per cent said they believe it will be the same and 11 per cent weren’t sure

The survey was conducted online from Nov. 27-29 among a representative randomized sample of 2,164 Canadian adults.

Margins of error cannot be calculated for online surveys, but the institute said a phone survey of a similar size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.  

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