Consumer spending to remain tight: report

Bensimon Byrne's latest Consumerology Report says high personal debt and comfort with thrift will prevent Canadians from splurging. However, over 80% of those polled see better times ahead for the economy.

Even though there’s optimism about Canada’s economy, Canadians are expected to remain thrifty over the next few months, according to the latest Consumerology Report from Toronto-based agency Bensimon Byrne.

Conducted by Gandalf Group, the quarterly report reveals that Canadians are still behaving frugally at all income levels and continuing to be cautious in their spending, partially due to high debt loads.

‘Large personal debt will severely limit Canadians’ ability to return to pre-recession spending levels,’ Jack Bensimon, president, Bensimon Byrne, said in a release on the report.

As the trend toward essential versus discretionary spending continues, Bensimon said he sees shopping for generic and bargain hunting continuing.
When it comes to spending behaviour, the Consumerology Report found that 92% of Canadians will be considering ‘need’ over ‘want’ when it comes to purchasing, with 75% reporting that they will lower their monthly discretionary spending in 2010.

Paying down debt was spotlighted as the top priority for discretionary spenders, with one in four Canadians reporting that they were forced to downsize their homes. Over 80% of Canadians will opt to buy generic products over brand name products.

However, the report did contain good news about Canadians’ attitudes toward the economy: 80% of those surveyed said they think the recession is over and see continued improvement of their own financial situation a year from now.

The Consumerology Report tracks consumer opinions about the economy, their personal financial expectations, consumer buying intention and attitudes towards key national issues. The surveys for this report were conducted between Feb. 23 and March 1 and included 1,500 English- and French-speaking Canadians.