People in the Prairies are taking the increasing cost of basics in stride, with just over a third saying rising food and gas prices have impacted their budgets significantly, which is the lowest impact in the country, according to the July 2011 RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index.
“Resilient and optimistic are how we would best describe Prairie residents,” said Rob Johnston, regional president, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Western Ontario, RBC. “They're refining their budgets, not only to handle rising daily costs, but also to manage debts and save for the future.”
While Prairie residents carry an average personal debt of $11,836 (not including mortgages), which is the second lowest such debt in the country, 51 per cent feel they could be doing a better job managing their overall debts.
To combat increasing food and gas prices, those impacted in the region plan to comparison shop more at 53 per cent, follow a budget more closely at 44 per cent and use their vehicles less at 33 per cent.
The RBC outlook indicated that people in the Prairies share a rosy outlook for the Canadian economy, with 82 per cent rating the current national economy as good, which is well above the 66 per cent national average.
Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents are also optimistic that the Canadian economy will improve over the upcoming year (48 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively).
Meanwhile, according to the most recent RBC Economic Outlook, provincial economies in the region are expected to grow throughout 2011 and 2012.
“Manitoba should benefit from natural resources' demand as well,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC. “which will boost mining activity in the province. With continued growth in manufacturing output in the province, we forecast real GDP growth of 3.6 per cent in 2011 and 3.4 per cent in 2012."
“Continued global demand for most natural resource products will mean real GDP growth in Saskatchewan of 3.8 per cent for 2011 and 4.7 per cent in 2012,” he added.
Other provincial highlights include:
• Vacation: Due to changing economic factors, over one-quarter (27 per cent) of Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents are more likely to delay vacation plans until next year. Ontarians (34 per cent) are most likely to delay vacation plans; residents in Quebec and Alberta (26 per cent) are the least likely to delay these plans.
• Personal financial situation outlook: Personal expectations remained steady, as 41 per cent of Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents expect their personal finances to improve over the next year, just slightly above the national average of 39 per cent.
• Major purchases: Half of the residents on the Prairies have delayed major purchases due to the current economy, up seven per cent since last quarter, but still under the national average of 58 per cent.