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Canadian Christmas spending could shrink 4 to 12%; travel, leisure activities most affected: survey

Level of COVID-19 resurgence will determine how much spending is impacted, says HelloSafe
Travel at Christmastime is one of the lifestyle elements most likely to be out of the budget for 2021, according to research done by insurance evaluation firm HelloSafe. (Flickr/Chillihead)

Although the pandemic might force Santa to tighten his belt in making this year’s trip around the world, new research says it won’t mean any shortage of presents from the elves in Canada at least.

While Christmas budgets for travel and leisure activities could decrease four to 12 per cent over last year, budgets towards gifts should remain typical, according to information compiled by HelloSafe.

The presence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant is the Grinch that stole Christmas escape packages.

“New restrictions would mean less travel and more people staying home rather than going out for entertainment,” reads a press release from the insurance evaluation company. One October 2021 survey projected the average Canadian household’s Christmas budget reaching $1,841 this year; a 31-per-cent increase over 2020. “However, the recent resurgence of COVID-19 illustrated by the quick spread of the Omicron variant is likely to change things.”

HelloSafe predicts an “optimistic” scenario of 5,000 daily new infections would translate to a modest 3.9-per-cent decrease ($71) in that projected budget, which would still be 25 per cent higher than the COVID-affected 2020 spending. A less jolly scenario of 10,000 daily cases would push Christmas spending down by 11.5 per cent ($211), it says, but even that number is 16 per cent sunnier than the average household’s 2020 budget.

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“Although it is very difficult in this moving context to estimate with accuracy how Canadians will react to the spread of Omicron, we can predict travel and entertainment will be the most negatively affected type of expenses,” HelloSafe said.

Looking at the gift shopping element of the personal Christmas budget, clothes take the top spot with $283 allocated, followed by food, sweets and alcohol, and toys.

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