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Albertans plan to spend and travel even less this holiday season: ATB

Four in 10 Albertans plan to spend less on gifts this holiday season, raising serious concerns for some retailers, according to a new report from ATB Financial.

Survey reveals trouble could lie ahead for retailers who rely on typical December sales surge

December shopping in Alberta was already down 6% last year compared to 2014, and a new survey suggests 4 in 10 Albertans plan to spend even less this holiday season. (The Canadian Press)

Four in 10 Albertans plan to spend less on gifts this holiday season, raising serious concerns for some retailers, according to a new report from ATB Financial.

"While the importance of holiday shopping will vary from retailer to retailer, the surge in spending that takes place ahead of Christmas is often critical to their survival," reads the report, which is based on an Ipsos poll.

"With Alberta suffering through a second year of economic contraction, retailers are no doubt anxious that reduced consumer confidence will further chip away at their bottom line."

Retail spending in December 2015 was already down $436 million compared to the previous December, according to Statistics Canada. That marked a decline of six per cent.

If retail spending drops yet again this December, it could spell disaster for retailers who rely on the holiday surge, which is usually followed by a lull in purchasing in January and February.

Run your mouse over or tap on this interactive graph to explore retail spending in Alberta over the past five years. The dark line shows seasonally adjusted figures; the light line shows actual spending for each month:

If there's one bit of hope for local retailers, according to the ATB report, it's that seven in 10 Albertans are not planning a trip outside the province this holiday season.

That could end up being "a boon for the provincial economy," the report reads.

"If more Albertans stay home over the holidays, this will keep their spending — even if it's reduced — in the province."

Most Albertans who said they plan to spend less this season or avoid holiday travel said their decisions were the result of the economic downturn gripping the province.

This Ipsos poll was conducted between Nov. 1 and Nov. 7 on behalf of ATB Financial. A total of 802 Albertans were interviewed online and weighting was employed to balance demographics to reflect the adult population according to census data.

The precision of these types of weighted online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered precise to within plus or minus 4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Albertan adults been polled.

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