The recession may still lay heavy on the minds of Canadian consumers, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped spending. In fact, a recent study shows many Canadians have embraced both high-tech and tried-and-true savings techniques for shopping smart.
The 11th annual Canadian Shopper Study from marketing research firm BrandSparks shows that 81 percent of Canadians say they’re “always” looking for ways to reduce spending on everyday items. They’re turning to tried-and-true tactics like checking flyers and writing shopping lists.
“The recession had an enormous impact on families, and it’s obvious that Canadians are working hard to improve the way they shop, adapting a more economical approach to their finances,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc.
The study also shows that more than 50 percent of Canadians have used their smartphone to make a shopping-related decision, while 31 percent of that number use their phones to compare prices with other retailers online – a brilliant tactic, Schwartz adds.
Novelty and extraneous purchases still wield their power over us, though.
Seventy-seven percent of shoppers enjoy the idea of trying new products and are willing to pay more for novelty – even if it means being disloyal to companies to which they were once faithful. Furthermore, 33 percent say they are less loyal to their favourite businesses than they were pre-recession. Interestingly, nearly half of Canadians are confused as to what “organic” products really are, but 35 percent of parents are still willing to pay more for organic baby products.
To get better value for your money, which 92 percent of Canadians say they enjoy, try these tips:
- Be an extreme couponer There is a reason the show Extreme Couponing gained massive popularity over the last few years: Clipping coupons is effective. You can find a coupon for just about anything you need if you look for it. Try frugalfrieda.com, brandsaver.com, and pg.com for coupon codes and deals for everything from pet food, baby formula and laundry detergent to nail polish and everything in between.
- Buy used This holds especially true if you have small children in the house. In addition to Craigslist and Kijiji, Once Upon a Child is a fantastic resource to buy (and sell!) children’s clothes, toys and equipment. They accept only quality clothing and brand names, all items are thoroughly inspected before being put on the shelf, and when you’re finished with them, you can sell the items right back to them. Multiple locations across Ontario -to find the nearest location, check the site.If you don’t have children, you can still enjoy treasure hunting on Kijiji, Craigslist, and scoping out garage sales (given the time of year). Don’t be afraid to haggle – even at chains like Value Village you can usually get a discount.
- The best things in life are free The originator of the proverb might not have meant freebies and samples, but free stuff always feels great. Redflagdeals.com has an entire section that alerts you to where and when the free things are, whether by mail or in person. If you’re pregnant or have a new baby, definitely join the Nestle Baby Program for cool freebies like diaper bags, formula, change pads and more.
- Seniors pay lessRemember that many retailers (Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, Canadian Tire and The Bay, just to name a few) offer discounts to senior citizens. This is usually on certain days of the month. Age ranges, discount rate and dates vary; make sure to ask your favourite store about their seniors discount and any in-store exclusions.
- Track your spendingIf you only use one tip, make it this one: write down everything you buy. Review it once a month, so you will have a completely accurate recording of where your money has gone. Most importantly, you will likely think twice before purchasing something you don’t need if you know you have to put it in your spending journal. Hold yourself accountable.