Canadian Consumers Stressed By Christmas Expenses; Plan To Spend Average of $643

A majority of Canadian consumers say they are feeling stressed by the expenses associated with Christmas even as they plan to spend more money this year on everything from gifts to decorations and food.

A new consumer survey carried out by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) found that Canadians plan to increase the amount they spend on Christmas this year by 8% to an average of $643. This money will go towards expenses such as decor, entertainment, gifts, food and Boxing Day sales.

However, these expenses come at a price as nearly two-thirds of people surveyed (1,512 total respondents) said they feel stressed during the Christmas period and agreed that holiday spending is ``out of control.`` Additionally more than 50% of people surveyed by CIBC said they expect to go over budget this December.

"It's time to reset expectations, so the holidays can be enjoyed to their fullest," said David Nicholson, CIBC's Vice President of Imperial Service, in a written statement. "No tradition is set in stone. Take some time with friends and family to discuss new traditions that might better reflect your shared values and help to reduce the costs and stress of the holidays."

While half of Canadians polled said they will use cash or debit to cover Christmas costs, 59% said they will use credit cards to finance their purchases, though rewards points and gift cards are becoming increasingly popular, the survey found – especially among women, millennials and people living in Atlantic Canada.

Some consumers are also adapting how they handle the Christmas season to curb stress and overspending: 38%said they've already changed a tradition; 43% put hard limits on gift spending; and one in five Canadians are turning to a single gift exchange such as Secret Santa.

Consumers aged 35 to 54 expect to be the biggest spenders this year, with average shopping budgets of $669 – roughly the same as last year. Millennials, meanwhile, are planning for a 39% jump in holiday spending this year, at $555 on average. The Atlantic region had the biggest Christmas budgets among all age groups at $827, while Quebec had the lowest at $479.