Canadian consumers are keen on 2011 but not as optimistic on their retirement prospects, according to a pair of surveys released Tuesday.

More than 30 per cent of Canadians think they will be better off financially in 2011, says a Harris/Decima poll on consumer confidence conducted for the Investors Group.  But Canadians now believe they will retire at 68 years of age, three years later than the results of the same Sun Life Financial survey conducted in 2010.

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Canadian consumers confidence about upcoming year

"We're seeing the new vision of retirement for Canadians depends on factors like how much income they earn and how close they are to retirement," said Kevin Dougherty, Sun Life's president.

Two visions of the economy

The Investors Group survey asked more than 2,000 people between Feb. 17 and 27 how they felt about the economy.

And the results were pretty positive, according to Investors Group.

Consumer confidence in Canada's economic prospects reached 86 in February versus 82 in November, the time of the last survey.

(The survey is an index out of 100.)

In addition, almost one-in-four Canadians  see good economic times for the country in the next 12 months. That's better than 19 per cent in the survey's last incarnation in November.

"This is a clear indication that Canadians are gaining comfort with the economic recovery and are returning to more normal spending, saving and investing behaviours," said Jack Courtney, Investors' Group assistant vice-president, advanced financial planning.

By contrast, Canadians are feeling less optimistic about their chances of retiring earlier, according to the Sun Life poll.

In addition to the three-year gain on expected retirement age, Canadians earning less than $50,000 are even bleaker regarding their so-called "golden years".

This group now expects to retire at 70, fully five years than the traditional quitting age of 65.

"(68 per cent ) of those making less than $50,000 per year say a main reason for working past age 65 is to earn enough money to pay for basic living expenses," the survey said.