As 2021 comes to a close, Canadians are feeling a lot different during this holiday season than the last. In 2020, lockdowns, restrictions and a lack of a vaccine led to closed retail stores and restaurants/bars and a ban on holiday gatherings with family and friends. With many Canadians having saved due to reduced yearlong spending, consumer confidence is through the roof in 2021 as we continue to move through the busiest shopping season of the year.

A new Retail Council of Canada (RCC) survey has found that Canadians say they are going to spend significantly more on holiday shopping, visit more brick-and-mortar stores and attend more in-person celebrations compared to last year, and rightfully so, as none of those things were possible in 2020. Last year, Canadians planned to spend an average of $693 during the holiday season. In 2021 they planned to spend $792.

But let’s be real, estimates aren’t always accurate and Deloitte Canada’s 2021 Holiday Retail Outlook actually suggested spending could be even higher. The report found Canadians are expected to spend an estimated $1,841 on the holidays, an increase of 31% compared with 2020 and 8% above 2019.

That being said, Canadians are buying and spending differently than they were prepandemic. Canadians have become increasingly interested in buying goods/services from local businesses, with a focus on products that are sustainable. Google’s 2021 Holiday Insights Report found that 38% of Canadian shoppers will buy from small, local businesses, while nearly a quarter will make purchases that are environmentally friendly.

So, what exactly do Canadians plan to spend their holiday budget on? According to the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) survey, they plan to spend the most on clothes, followed by food, toys and personal electronics. Deloitte Canada’s 2021 Holiday Retail Outlook also predicts that Canadians are expected to spend 11% more on gifts overall, while spending on holiday-related merchandise will jump 15%.

With shipping delays, stalled cargo ships and supply chain woes, Canadians also started their holiday shopping earlier this year and have made it a point to do more in-person shopping as a result. Consumers are returning to shopping malls and sourcing products from more local shops in their area where they can leave with items in hand and not have to worry about shipping or supply chain delays.

Canadians are more than ready to put the disruption of COVID-19 behind them and enjoy the 2021 holiday season to the best of their ability. Over the course of the pandemic, many have saved money and are now making plans to spend it during the holiday season. These new shopping and buying habits are a result of the ever-changing marketplace and the reality of managing a global pandemic. As more retailers make the jump online and begin offering different ways to shop, consumers are confronted with a plethora of options from both local retailers and those located across the globe. The blend of physical and online shopping will continue to evolve as time passes and Canadian consumers can expect to have more options than ever before when it comes to where they buy from and how. On the plus side, the pandemic has brought with it many new and innovative ways to shop, so whether you’re looking to visit a store in person or you prefer to order online, new curbside pickup and delivery options are further expanding the reach of small businesses as well as big box retailers.