Less anxiety means more presents around the Christmas tree

Job anxiety in Saskatchewan and Manitoba is by far the lowest in the country at 12 per cent and much lower than the national average of 27 per cent, according to a new consumer report by RBC.

Residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba also differ when it comes to holiday shopping, with only 37 per cent saying they will spend less this year, compared to the national average of 47 per cent. 

The inaugural RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook report found that only 12 per cent of Prairie residents said they will not be buying gifts at all during the holiday season, the lowest level in the country. 

On average, people in Saskatchewan and Manitoba expect to spend $880 on holiday purchases, including gifts, decorations and entertaining, compared to the national average of $1,218.

“Prairie residents' optimism about the next year may be helping to dispel concerns about holiday spending and job security,” said Rob Johnston, the regional president of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Western Ontario for RBC. 

The report also measured Canadians' perception of current conditions compared to three months ago, as well as short-term (three month) prospects for their personal finances and a number of other factors. 

Regional highlights include:

• Of those surveyed, one-in-four residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba believe their personal financial situation will improve in the next three months (compared to the national average of 27 per cent).

• In the next year, 40 per cent expect improvement in their personal financial situation (compared to the national average of 38 per cent).

While Prairie residents are most likely to say that the state of the national economy has worsened in the last three months and are the least optimistic for a rebound in the next three months, in the longer term, residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are among the most optimistic for an improvement of the next year at 65 per cent compared to the national average of 62 per cent.

“Weakening conditions early in the year led to forecast down-grades with Manitoba alone posting positive growth in 2009,” said Dawn Desjardins, assistant chief economist for RBC.

“As the global recovery becomes more fully entrenched, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are likely to be some of Canada's growth leaders in 2010,” she added. 

According to its recent Throne Speech, read by Manitoba Lieutenant-Governor Philip Lee, the provincial government is anticipating Manitoba’s economic performance to decline slightly, but still outperform the rest of the country.

Lee said Manitoba is projected to have the best economic performance of any province this year and significantly outperform the national economy, but the province’s economic performance is forecast to contract by 0.2 per cent in 2009.