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2021 holiday retail outlook

Holiday spirits prove resilient

It’s been a challenging year and a half for consumers and retailers alike. While some Canadians have been able to weather the pandemic well, others have faced challenges. Yet Canadians’ holiday spirit is resilient, and this year’s holiday outlook finds them making plans to celebrate—and, in many cases, spend.

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Holiday spending rebounds

Canadians’ holiday spending is set to return to pre-pandemic levels. Shoppers’ average holiday spend is estimated to hit $1,841 this year, bouncing back 31% from 2020 and rising 8% over 2019’s average spend.

Shopping season will start earlier due to supply-chain worries

Rising concerns over supply-chain issues and potential product shortages will persuade many Canadians—especially those who have weathered the pandemic well—to start shopping early. These same concerns may drive consumers to try new products and brands if their desired items are out of stock.

Financial impact of COVID-19 continues to shape holiday plans

Canadians who weathered the pandemic well financially are poised to spend an average of $2,118 this holiday season. Those who have had a more challenging time financially are more likely to reduce their holiday spending to an average of $1,400, citing inflation concerns and a desire to increase their savings. Retailers that have invested in their customer data and analytics capabilities should be able to better curate offers based on individual needs.

E-commerce helps customers achieve their shopping goals

Canadians continue to take advantage of online shopping to avoid crowded stores and mitigate their exposure to COVID-19. Many consumers intend to visit stores for transactional reasons this holiday season, such as picking up or returning items or to save on shipping costs. This will increase pressure on retailers, which are already experiencing hiring challenges.


Download our holiday retail outlook from years past.


Fundamental shifts in holiday shopping habits of Canadians accelerate


Tills will ring this holiday season!


Marty Weintraub

National Retail Leader

Marty leads the National Retail Consulting practice for Canada. For the past 20 years, he has advised retail clients on developing and implementing enterprise-wide retail transformation and operational improvement programs that impact business processes, organization designs and technology enablement. These programs result in his clients realizing significant improvements to sales, margin, SG&A and working capital in a world of retailing where traditional ways of operating are no longer sufficient.

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