Canadians Value Travel, Dining Out & Entertainment Over Things

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Carol Wong-Li

According to new research from Mintel, Canadians have adopted the "money can't buy happiness" credo, as 58% of Canadians surveyed report that they value experiences more than things. 

The study reveals that consumers are more likely to spend their discretionary dollars on experience-focused categories in 2018 as compared to a year ago, with entertainment (39%) dining out (38%) and travel (35%), ranking as the top ways consumers spend their extra income. 

Although experiences are winning over consumers, debt reduction remains a priority as well. One third (33%) of consumers are putting their discretionary money toward paying off debt this year, which was the top priority in 2017. 

What's more, a number of consumers may hold lingering memories of leaner times and putting their money toward saving up for the future as interest in spending discretionary dollars on investments has also shown a lift over last year (27% in 2018 vs 22% in 2017).

An improved perception of financial health is working to create a less conservative attitude toward spending and inspiring consumers to splash out on experiences. 

This year, some 43% of consumers see their financial situation as "healthy," meaning they have enough money left over at the end of the month for a few luxuries or treats, an increase over the 36% who said the same in 2016. And the majority (54%) of Canadians today agree that their financial goals are attainable; while around four in five Canadians say they have already or will be able to save money (87%), pay off debt (85%) or have a comfortable retirement (78%).

Overall, consumer expenditure increased 3.4% in 2017 over the previous year. Mintel forecasts that total consumer expenditure will grow at an average annual rate of 2.8% through 2022.

"Positive economic conditions such as low unemployment are leading Canadians to feel especially confident about the state of their finances this year, so much so that many consumers have shifted their priorities from paying off debt toward spending their extra dollars on experiences,” said Carol Wong-Li, Senior Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst at Mintel.

“This trend in experiences over things is seen as more emotionally rewarding for consumers and allows them to create memories with others. This is a boon for non-essential categories such as dining out and entertainment—areas that consumers had taken a step back from in previous years owing to a more conservative approach to spending that has been alleviated over the last year." 

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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