As provinces ease up COVID-19 restrictions and local economies look to reopen businesses, more than two-thirds of Canadians (69 per cent) are still spending less on non-essential items like gifts or restaurants meals, according to a new study from the Angus Reid Institute.

The poll results, published Thursday, found a significant downward trend in non-essential spending, as Canadians continue to shun frivolous purchases in favour of groceries, gas and other necessities.

The online poll found that while the majority of Canadians’ personal finances appear to be improving, with 80 per cent of Canadians now reporting their financial status as ‘good’ or ‘great’ compared with 73 per cent in April, the recovery differs strongly across income levels.

Sixty-five per cent of Canadians earning less than $50,000 said they are in good financial shape compared to 89 per cent among those earning $100,000 or more. Canadians receiving employment insurance or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are even more fragile, with 30 per cent saying they are barely hanging on.

The study found that three-in-10 Canadians have lost work due to COVID-19 – a number that has remained steady since May – and that 38 per cent of those who have lost their jobs described their personal finances as bad or terrible, three times the amount of those still employed (13 per cent).  

Financial status notwithstanding, Canadians across all income levels agree that now is not the time to make major purchases such as a vehicle or home. More than half (56 per cent) said that the next year is a bad time for major expenditures, with this number rising to two-thirds (65 per cent) in lower income brackets.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted the online survey of 1,503 randomized Canadian adults from July 10 -11, 2020.