Square Survey: Canadians are Bracing for “Gift-flation” This Holiday Season

Nov 16, 2023

83% of Canadians expect gifts to cost more this year and plan to boost their budgets and prioritize shopping local

Square unveils new features to give local sellers an edge

A new survey from technology company Square reveals that Canadians are bracing for “gift-flation” this holiday season, with a whopping 83% reporting they expect gifts to cost more this year.

A bright spot is that Canadians’ support for hometown businesses remains strong, with 57% reporting they’d prefer to give and receive gifts from local businesses this year – and 80% confirming they’ll support local where they can.

“Rising costs have Canadians in a reflective mood, with 83% agreeing that, due to gift-flation, they’ll be ‘more intentional and thoughtful about their purchases,” explains Roshan Jhunja, Head of Retail at Square. “The good news is that supporting local remains high on Canadians’ wish lists this holiday season, and technology partners like Square are here to help local retailers stand out and engage more shoppers with new tools and features for in-person sales and ecommerce.”

Holiday Ho-Ho-Hometown Strong

According to the new survey, shoppers’ local loyalty is still dependent on competitive pricing and good deals during the holiday sales season. While the majority of Canadians agree they’ll shop and support local ”where they can,” they also admitted that ultimately, they’ll “go where the deals are.” In fact, 61% of those surveyed say they plan to “deal hunt more intensely” during upcoming Black Friday sales – especially Gen Z (69%) and Millennials (69%).

Jhunja says the company’s most recent poll, conducted with hundreds of sellers using Square tools across the globe, backs up that finding, with 71% of retailers in Canada planning to work harder to attract customers and boost their holiday sales this year. Strategies being leveraged by sellers include improving their ecommerce websites, offering new holiday products, rolling out special discounts and promos, offering Buy Now Pay Later options like Afterpay to allow shoppers to spread out the cost of purchases, and wooing local patrons with in-person and online experiences.

Brandon Shedden, CEO of retail brand Cakeworthy, is optimistic that their efforts will pay off this holiday season. The fashion label has operated online since 2014, and has just celebrated the first anniversary of its brick-and-mortar location in Hamilton, Ontario.

“We’re seeing that people are increasingly preferring to shop local, and while we’ve only been through one holiday season so far, we’re confident that this will be another good year for our physical shop,” said Shedden. “We’re also keeping our prices the same, and have plans for a big sale and a special surprise event for Black Friday, so we’re hoping to help customers avoid gift-flation as best as we can.”

Jingle Bells: Canadians Boosting Holiday Budgets

While 62% of survey participants anticipate spending the same as last year, almost half (49%) of those who agree they expect gifts to cost more say they will boost their holiday budgets by at least 20-25% this year.

The cost crunch has more than two-thirds of Canadians reporting they’ve put “big ticket purchases off the table,” but still expect to “enjoy a few little luxuries this holiday season.” According to Jhunja, that trend is showing up in Square’s data. While overall retail sales in Canada continue to grow, as of September 2023, average retail transaction size had fallen 10% from a year ago.

Square Unveils New Features to Help Businesses This Holiday Season

In order to give businesses a competitive edge this holiday period, Square announced a new suite of solutions in Canada. With new features, including Group eGift Cards and Retail Bundles, Square sellers in Canada can now further enhance their customer engagement across more channels and automated tools to set them up for a successful sales season.

  • Enhancements to Square for Retail’s checkout interface can help sellers increase their service speed to customers by integrating multiple fulfillment options - such as in-person sales, shipment and pick up - spanning across locations and auto calculating taxes based on order shipping destinations.
  • When it comes to gift buying, Square has also made it as easy as possible for businesses to drive revenue. With Retail Bundles, sellers can offer multiple items into a single holiday gift basket, enabling customers to easily purchase relevant items focused on a common theme – all while ensuring accurate inventory counts across locations and channels for sellers.
  • Besides physical products, sellers can now offer Group eGift Cards, making it easier for individuals to contribute to a group present while increasing value loads. Sellers simply offer the option on their gift card page and buyers will receive a link that can be shared to contributors.
  • Themes are a pre-built set of 19 high-quality site design templates for Square Online. Combined with additional customizable features such as colours, fonts, layouts, and buttons, sellers will soon be able to create nearly infinite combinations of designs to make a unique and on brand website.

“Retailers choose Square because our technology helps automate critical operations within their businesses, and scales with them as they grow, said Jhunja. “As their needs become more sophisticated, they can tap further into Square’s fully integrated ecosystem of tools. We remain focused on providing sellers with the technology they need to unlock new growth channels and maximize their sales during the holidays and beyond.”

Click here for the survey findings. For more information on Square’s integrated ecosystem of commerce products, visit squareup.ca.