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Poll finds British Columbians spent more and incurred more debt than anticipated during holiday period

Vancouver, BC – A poll hosted on the Angus Reid Forum for Coast Capital Savings suggests the COVID-19 pandemic influenced greater gift-giving during the holiday season than initially planned by British Columbians. However, respondents also say the impact and uncertainty created by the pandemic has them taking greater stock of their personal finances and the importance of rainy day savings.

The post-holiday online survey of 810 BC adults (in Greater Vancouver and Vancouver Island) was conducted between December 30-31, 2020, as a follow up to a poll conducted before the holiday period to gauge whether holiday shoppers stayed true to their intentions. The earlier polling was conducted between October 26-29, 2020.

On average, British Columbians surveyed estimate they spent just under $1,000 ($992) this year on holiday related items, about $100 ($94) more than indicated in the pre-holiday survey.

Not surprisingly, 53% of those who spent more say they did so to brighten the season for others during a stressful period. Respondents to the October survey suggested they planned to spend, on average, $504 for gift-giving - but in real terms, ended up spending an estimated $675 or nearly 25% more than anticipated.

Perhaps the one bright spot in the recent survey findings is that British Columbians have taken note of the rapid financial impacts brought on by COVID-19. According to the survey, 65% of survey participants say they are taking their personal finances more seriously as a result of the pandemic, with 80% suggesting it’s because they are either worried about the future or they have a new appreciation for the importance of saving for a rainy day.

“There is always going to be pressure to spend beyond our means, a situation that is exacerbated during the holiday season - and that is why a budget is important, not only during the holidays but in general,” said Lisa Colangelo, Vice President of Retail Operations, Coast Capital Savings. “As we approach the one-year mark of the emergence of the pandemic, it is important that people continue to be mindful about their finances, knowing that the uncertainty continues. And while there is room for optimism, with the ongoing and ever-changing environment, a prudent budget and savings plan are important steps for both financial security and greater peace of mind.”

The post-holiday survey revealed that 75% of respondents used a credit card for holiday-related purchases. However, the debt seems to be temporary as 79% of those expect to pay those charges right away or within the first month.

“Even with the best of intentions, debt levels can sneak up on you quickly,” continued Colangelo. “With especially high interest rates, paying down consumer debt can prove difficult and can often feel overwhelming. The first step is setting a goal to pay that debt down. The next step is to tap into the trusted advice of your financial institution to help you reach that goal. Coast Capital has an amazing team of advisors who are well positioned to help you take stock and reach the financial goals that are important to you.”

For help with reaching your financial goals and managing debt, reach out to Coast Capital Savings and their team of trusted advisors. Please visit

About this survey

The findings are based on a survey conducted by Coast Capital Savings between October 26 to 29, 2020 with a representative sample of 810 online adults in Greater Vancouver and on Vancouver Island who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The precision of Angus Reid Forum online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all residents of Greater Vancouver and Vancouver Island been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About the Angus Reid Forum:

The Angus Reid Forum is Canada’s most well-known and trusted online public opinion community consisting of engaged residents across the country who answer surveys on topical issues that matter to all Canadians.

About Coast Capital Savings

Coast Capital Savings is Canada’s largest credit union by membership and, in 2018, made history becoming B.C.’s first federal credit union. Owned by its 593,000 members, Coast Capital offers banking and investment services digitally and through its 52 branches in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Okanagan, and Vancouver Island regions of British Columbia. An Imagine Canada Caring Company and a Certified B Corporation in recognition of its social performance, Coast Capital invests 10 per cent of its bottom line in youth focused community organizations, programs, partnerships and events. The credit union has been recognized as one of Canada's Most Admired Corporate Cultures™, and holds a Best Managed Companies Platinum Club designation. Coast Capital has a history of introducing innovative products to help their members achieve financial wellbeing including Canada’s first free chequing account from a full-service financial institution and Help Extras®, enabling members to invest in their future. To learn more, visit


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