Canadian consumer spending has fallen since the beginning of this year and findings from a new survey suggest people are choosing to spend their limited cash based on company practices, from the environment to workplace inclusion. 
Since January 2023, consumer spending has dropped three per cent amid heightened inflation and rising interest rates, according to the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).
Canadian consumers are also being more selective about where they spend their limited dollars, according to Pierre Cléroux, vice president of research and chief economist of the BDC.
“Not only are consumers a little bit more cautious about spending, but they spend differently,” Cléroux said in a Tuesday interview with BNN Bloomberg.
Cléroux explained that consumers are paying closer attention to companies’ environmental impacts and overall diversity practices. 

A consumer trends report published by the BDC on Tuesday included findings from a survey that found 56 per cent of respondents reported that they stopped buying products from companies whose business practices they disagree with. Such practices include how the company manages its environmental footprint, biodiversity and inclusion policies, and how it reports on its progress. 
“People are taking action now. If they disagree with the behaviour of a company, they will switch to another company,” Cléroux said. 
Currently, only 29 per cent of surveyed business said they are taking a generational approach, which involves catering business practices to the changes that a certain age group wants to see. The report made the case that more companies could capitalize on this strategy.
For example, environmental considerations are more important for millennial consumers – and businesses that cater to this age group can plan accordingly, the report suggested. 
“This is the first time we see that the expectation for consumers is that business are good corporate citizens,” he said. 

The study presents the trends and insights drawn from an anonymous survey of 1,983 Canadian adult members of the Angus Reid Group's consumer panel and 759 Canadian SME business leaders, members of the BDC ViewPoints panel. The results of these surveys have been weighted to represent both Canadian consumer and business populations.