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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Bart Copeland, Andreas Grabner, Liz McMillan, Dana Gardner, Elizabeth White

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Majority of Canadians Plan to Open Their Wallets on Boxing Day in 2012

- Alberta, Atlantic Canada and Ontario will see the most spending activity on Boxing Day

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 12/22/12 -- Canada's biggest shopping day is circled on the calendars of many Canadians, with the majority of Canadians (62 per cent) planning to shop on Boxing Day this year, according to a BMO poll released today.

According to the BMO poll, conducted by Pollara:


--  One-in-five (22 per cent) plan to shop for themselves, while another
    third (34 per cent) will spend on items for both themselves and others 
--  Alberta, Atlantic Canada and Ontario will see the most spending activity
    on Boxing Day (76 per cent, 72 per cent and 69 per cent respectively)
    while Quebec will see the least (36 per cent) 
--  Men are more likely than woman to take advantage of Boxing Day sales (66
    per cent versus 58 per cent respectively) 

Overall, Canadians plan to spend an average of $1,610 on the holidays this year.

Su McVey, Vice President, BMO Bank of Montreal, noted that while Boxing Day is a great opportunity to take advantage of deeply discounted items, not accounting for spending during this period can cause some to spend outside of their means and keep them from staying within their holiday budgeting parameters.

"Boxing Day is treated by many as a shopping holiday in Canada, and is as big as Black Friday in the U.S.," said Ms. McVey. "Given that the majority of Canadians plan to spend during this period, it's essential that Boxing Day spending is accounted for in the overall household holiday spending budget and not treated as a financial after-thought."

Ms. McVey added that three-in-ten (29 per cent) Canadians set a fixed budget for their holiday spending, while half (47 per cent) set a loose or flexible budget, and two-in-ten (21 per cent) do not set a budget for holiday shopping.

Boxing Day is an important period for Canadian retailers, as it represents one of the biggest sales days on the calendar year. BMO Economics projects Canadian holiday retail sales receipts, excluding auto and gasoline sales, will be almost $60 billion. This represents an increase of between one and two per cent year-over-year - or a rise of between $600 million and $1.2 billion - during the November to December sales period.

"While the projections for year-over-year increases in holiday sales are modest, it should still be viewed as positive for retailers in Canada, and is certainly well above levels seen during the recent economic downturn of 2008," said Doug Porter, Deputy Chief Economist, BMO Capital Markets.

To make the most of your Boxing Day spending dollars, BMO offers Canadians the following tips:

Have a game plan: Before venturing out into the crowds on Boxing Day, create a list of must-haves items and set spending limits to ensure you don't get swept away in a post-holiday shopping frenzy.

Get a head start: Many retailers will begin the Boxing Day sales period before December 26th. Keep an eye on your favourite retailers' websites and in-store ads to ensure you don't miss out on early discounts and promotions.

Stay outside the fray by looking online: Many online retailers offer discounts and free shipping during the Boxing Day period. However, as with in-store promotions, inventories can dwindle quickly. Ensure you've created online accounts or profiles with your favourite retailers and watch the web to avoid missing out.

Maximize your spending: Utilize rewards programs to get the most out of your Boxing Day purchases. Use a debit or credit card affiliated with a loyalty program to earn rewards for purchases at retailers. The BMO AIR MILES bank account or BMO AIR MILES World credit card allows you to accelerate rewards earnings and significantly enhance the value of every dollar spent by allowing you to "double dip" - essentially earning rewards twice on the same purchase when you use your Collector Card along with one of these forms of payment at AIR MILES Sponsor locations.

The survey results cited in the 2012 BMO Holiday Spending Outlook conducted by Pollara are compiled from a random sample of 1,000 Canadians 18 years of age and over between October 11 and October 16, 2012. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $525 billion as at October 31, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

Contacts:
Media Contacts:
Matt Duffin, Toronto
(416) 867-3996
[email protected]

Valerie Doucet, Montreal
(514) 877-8224
[email protected]

Laurie Grant, Vancouver
(604) 665-7596
[email protected]

Internet: www.bmo.com
Twitter: @BMOmedia

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