SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Adine Deford, Cynthia Dunlop, Harry Trott, Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva

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The Last-Minute Club: BMO Report Shows More Canadians Got a Head Start on Holiday Shopping

- BMO Holiday Spending Survey shows consumers are better prepared for holiday shopping now than in 2011, with most planning weeks or months in advance

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 12/22/12 -- According to the BMO Holiday Spending Survey, fewer Canadians are waiting until the last minute to cross names off of their holiday shopping list, with the majority planning their shopping weeks or months in advance (26 per cent and 68 per cent respectively).

However, three per cent don't begin their holiday shopping until the last minute, leaving themselves only a short time to wrap up their gift giving.

"With Canadian families balancing busier schedules more than ever before, it's no surprise that a few shoppers will be rushing around at the last-minute. However, this last-minute rush can often cause people to make impulse decisions and sometimes over-spend on gift buying," said Janet Peddigrew, Vice President, BMO Bank of Montreal. "Planning and establishing a budget early on to cap and track holiday spending can help avoid last-minute spending pitfalls."

Ms. Peddigrew added that online banking features, including tools such as BMOMoneyLogic(TM), allow Canadians to set spending limits and get immediate insights into whether or not they are staying on track.

BMO Bank of Montreal offers the following Do's and Don'ts for the frantic, time-crunched holiday shopper:

Don't Panic - You still have time to get everything done. Keep your shopping list handy at all times and try to pick up one or two items when you can - either during your lunch hour or after work. A call ahead to the retailer can confirm whether or not your item is in stock. Ask them to hold it for you so you can get in and out of the store quickly.

Do Check Return Policies - Don't forget to check the retailer's return policy before making a purchase. Knowing the return policy can help ease the stress of last-minute shopping and help safeguard against the consequences of making impulse gift purchases.

Don't get Scrooged when you Shop Online - Shopping online can save you time and money, but stick to reputable sites and beware of sites you don't know. Pay close attention to shipping dates and build in extra delivery time so you won't be disappointed. For added protection, consider purchasing your gifts with a credit card that offers some form of insurance, which will cover you if gifts you buy get lost, stolen or broken.

Do Cap your Spending - Develop a budget and stick to it. The pressure of last minute shopping can cause shoppers to make impulse decisions and often spend more than necessary. Set a budget for each family member and ask them to make a list of gifts that fall within the allotted amount, which will help you set a realistic expectation and ensure you don't over-spend.

Do Take Advantage of Store Sales and Coupons - Overpaying is overspending. The one upside for last-minute shoppers is that retailers are often anxious to clear their inventory before December 25th; watch for significant sales. Many retailers will discount their merchandise from 20 per cent to 50 per cent, or more. Take the time to comparison shop and look for store sales to ensure you're getting the best price.

Do Use a Credit Card and Debit Card that Rewards you for your 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.

For more details on BMO MoneyLogic, visit www.bmo.com/moneylogic, and for more details on how to save, borrow and spend smartly, visit www.bmo.com/smartsteps.

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.

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