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Canada Counts
A survey of Canadian buying intentions.
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Lacklustre consumer confidence will impact holiday sales, TNS says PDF Print E-mail
Written by HGO Staff   

TORONTO (22 November 2010) - Canadian consumers remain uncertain about their confidence in the economy, according to the latest survey published by marketing research firm TNS Canada. Its Consumer Confidence Index remained essentially flat in November, gaining only 1.3 points.

In a related note, TNS said Canadians are indicating this will be the lowest spending holiday-season since 2005, which could prove to be harbinger for retail performance in general over the coming months.

"If I were a retailer, I might be clicking my red heels together wishing it were December 2006 and not December 2010," TNS Canada vice president Dr. Michael Antecol said in a statement.

He is also director of the firm's monthly tracking study.

"Canadians remain ambivalent about the economy," he continued. "The promised spark of the government stimulus package was DOA. And now Canadians are saying they plan to sit on their wallets this holiday season like Dorothy's house sat on the Wicked Witch of the West. Expect deep price drops. Expect them soon."

The Present Situation Index, which captures evaluations of the overall state of the current economic and employment situations, continues to be unsettled. It returned to positive territory this month after declines of 1.9 in September and 0.7 points in October. The index ended the month at 93.5, up 2.1 points from 91.4 in October.

The results of the two future-oriented indices were mixed.

The Expectations Index, which measures consumers' estimation of the economy, household income and employment in the next six months, rose 1.4 points to close November at 105.7 points. The gain was a nice complement to October's 2.0-point gain. Still, both increases were not quite enough to offset September's 3.5-point drop.

In contrast, the Buy Index, which gauges the degree to which people think the current period is a good time to make major purchases (including homes, cars, furniture, appliances and other big ticket items), had its positive momentum stopped cold. After a 4.2-point increase in October, the index closed November at 95.1, up 0.1 points from its October close.

One super clear result of the lacklustre confidence is the findings of TNS's yearly holiday spending questions. Canadians plan to spend $812 this holiday season - that's down even from last year's $866 when the economy was technically in worse shape than it is now. In fact, this is the lowest predicted spending since 2005 when consumers indicated they spend only $782 over that holiday season.

This means that while just over six in every ten Canadians plan to spend the same as last year, only one in ten plan to spend more and almost 30% plan to spend less.

"Results of the past several months do not suggest that Canadians will achieve any clarity surrounding the economy any time soon. Indicators should continue to fluctuate with ambivalent results being the order of the day. Perhaps Canadians would exude more confidence if they saw more economic leadership from Canadian governments. Still, it is ironic that the economy will really only improve once consumers themselves start spending - for whatever reason," Antecol observed.

TNS surveyed a total of 1,015 nationally representative Canadian adults by telephone between 08 and 14 November. For a sample this size the margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

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