The elevated cost of living is weighing on Canadians’ holiday gift shopping plans, new data from BMO’s Real Financial Progress Index revealed.

While inflation has slowed in Canada in recent months, Canadians are still paying more for their necessities than they were this time last year. This is why 78 per cent of consumers said they plan on buying fewer gifts this December, according to data from the BMO index that tracks how consumers feel about their personal finances by sampling adults 18 and over in Canada. 

Forty per cent of survey respondents also said they planned to buy less expensive gifts for friends and family. 

A little over half of surveyed Canadians reported feeling financial anxiety about the holidays, with 29 per cent saying they feel less financially secure than they did a year ago.

“The holidays are certainly a time to celebrate with loved ones, but the holiday parties, family gatherings, travel and gift exchanges can also pose a financial strain – especially during times of economic uncertainty,” said Gayle Ramsay, head of everyday banking, segment and customer growth at BMO, said in a press release on the results.

Survey respondents said they believe that it will take on average three months to pay back their holiday bills, while 24 per cent said they are not confident they will be able to pay off their post-holiday bills on time.

“The rising cost of living will be top of mind this holiday season,” he said.


The BMO Real Financial Progress Index is an indicator of how consumers feel about their personal finances and whether they are making financial progress. The research detailed in this document was conducted by Ipsos in Canada from September 11 to October 9, 2023. A sample of n=2,502 adults ages 18+ in Canada were collected. Quotas and weighting were used to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. This survey has a credibility interval of +/- 2.2 per cent 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had all Canadian adults 18+ been surveyed.