Canadians Have no Plans to Cut Holiday Spending

Love or hate holiday shopping, Canadians are showing little sign of cutting back on spending this holiday season. The vast majority of Canadians (86 per cent) plan to be as generous, or more, this year versus last year, with an anticipated average holiday spend of $570, according to a recent poll by Ebates.ca.  Those planning on taking advantage of holiday shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, anticipate getting roughly one-third of their holiday shopping finished on these days (36 per cent on Black Friday and 33 per cent on Cyber Monday).

“Canadians may not be spending less, but they are leveraging pre-holiday sales to save money and stretch their dollar further,” said Belinda Baugniet, director of marketing and resident shopping expert at Ebates.ca. “Our survey indicates that convenience is increasingly important to their shopping habits and decisions.”

2017 shopping trends
Parents are anticipated to be the big spenders, shelling out an average of $710 compared to $489 for those without kids, while dads say they plan to spend more than moms ($803 versus $638). Despite 22 per cent of Canadians who still plan on being last-minute shoppers, more Canadians are shopping early this year, with 31 per cent saying they have most of their holiday shopping done before the winter season starts, up from 28 per cent last year. These shopping keeners are more likely to be under the age of 35 (37 per cent), and/or parents of preschoolers (45 per cent). Those who do at least some shopping online (34 per cent) are also more likely to have their holiday shopping wrapped up early than those who don’t (18 per cent).

Some people dread going anywhere near a mall during the holidays, and they are not alone; Canadians increasingly cite shopping for gifts at the mall as their least favourite part of the holidays (62 per cent), up slightly from last year (59 per cent). The majority (82 per cent) of Canadians are turning to online shopping to avoid the chaos and plan to dedicate 38 per cent of their holiday spend online, versus 36 per cent last year. Accordingly, convenience is cited as the top benefit of online shopping (26 per cent), followed by the ability to find things not available in stores (21 per cent).

Speaking of convenience, a whopping 87 per cent of Canadians say they typically purchase gift cards as holiday gifts and just as many say they are happy when they receive gift cards. In fact, only 21 per cent say they are a little disappointed to get a gift card, and just 36 per cent feel a little guilty giving one. By far, the majority of Canadians feel gift cards simplify their holiday gift shopping (84 per cent) and nearly three quarters (73 per cent) feel they are a thoughtful holiday gift. The most popular type of gift card is for restaurants/coffee shops (49 per cent) followed by multi-purpose ones such as Visa gift cards (38 per cent).

Smart strategies
Regardless of where they shop, Canadians strategize ways to stretch their holiday shopping budget. Two-thirds redeem loyalty program points to purchase gifts and 59 per cent make a point of shopping with retailers that offer loyalty points, while 47 per cent make a point of shopping with retailers that offer cash back. Other strategies include:

  • 38% use social media to help them find deals (39% in 2016)
  • 31% use social media to recommend products (31% in 2016)
  • 32% use mobile apps or mobile payment (up vs 28% in 2016)
  • 30% use store mobile apps to make purchases (up vs 27% in 2016)
  • 22% use social media to complain about products (22% in 2016)

About the survey The Ebates Canada survey was conducted online in October 2017 with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Canadians. A sample of this size is accurate to within +/-3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About Ebates Inc. The Ebates brand supports a strong community of millions of savvy shoppers around the world. Ebates.com was founded in 1998 and has paid over $300,000,000 in cash to its global members. In 2012, Ebates began international expansion with the launch of Ebates Canada, specifically designed by Canadians for Canadians. Ebates.ca membership is free. To earn cash back, online shoppers log in to Ebates.ca and click through to a partner retail site to complete their purchase. Ebates.ca then tracks the purchase and offers back in cash a percentage of everything bought. Every quarter, Ebates.ca sends members their cash back account balance in the form of a #BigFatCheque or #BigFatPayment through PayPal. Members also have the option to send their cash back to a designated charity.

SOURCE Ebates Canada

Holiday tips and gifts for your survivalist

By Leanne Italie

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK _ There are survivalists ready to keep themselves alive for months with nothing more than a plastic fork (perhaps an exaggeration), then there’s a greater universe of preppers who might need some help with bug-out gear come the end of the world.

While you may think Uncle Philbert is off his nut, consider playing along for the holidays with a pricey gift that would otherwise bust his disaster budget. Because, you never know.

Some ideas:

THE ZOMBIE KNIFE

Which mega-knife to pack is a highly personal prepper decision, one that your average harried holiday gifter may not understand or have time to deep-dive research. In the alternative, choose nice-looking with good reviews from those in the know online and go for an accompanying sheath to fancy up the offering.

A fun name is a plus, such as the Zombie Tinder Survivor 1 at $210, handmade in the USA. It has an exceptionally sharp choil, or the section of the blade next to the handle, according to the makers at Zombietinder.com. That part, the company declares, is good for cutting rope, limbing small trees, splitting the rib cage of large game and making fuzz sticks for fire starting.

Take that, zombies.

WATER, WATER, WATER

It’s used by NATO, the U.S. military and the Red Cross, according to Filtersfast.com. It’s the free-standing, hand-operated and high-capacity Katadyn 8016389 Expedition KFT Water Filter System _ and it’s a beaut from the Swiss company at $1,499.95.

Water, in the event of disaster, is liquid gold, the same colour as this sleek system.

The Katadyn can steadily filter large quantities of water. The maker promises that its Katadyn 1040 KFT ceramic filters remove bacteria, cysts, algae, protozoa, sediment, dirt, spores, some viruses and other disease-causing agents down to 0.2 microns, also taking care of any radioactive particles.

Widely available. Bases. Covered.

THE COOL GUY BUG-OUT BAG

Heading into the great unknown doesn’t have to mean unattractive. The Seventy2 kit comes highly rated, fully loaded and it’s DARN cool at $349.99.

It’s called that because it’s designed to get one through the first crucial 72 hours of a crisis. It’s also inspirational, with handy advice right on the bag: “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast,” as in don’t freak out.

There’s a backpack within the backpack for double duty. Supply pockets are colour-coded and stuffed with Datrex food bars, water filtration and storage bladders, first aid, tools and wilderness electronics.

Pro tip: The puff ball on the warm and cozy beanie hat can be cut off and used as a fire starter. You can also bread crumb your way out of any situation with a healthy portion of bright orange duct tape and recharge cellphones with a hand-cranked power source.

Plastic interior panels with holes can be used as splints or snowshoes, laced with some of the 100 feet of red paracord provided. The whole shebang: 11.4 pounds, as seen on “Shark Tank.”

UP LIKE A TENT, STRONG AS A BUNKER

Planning to survive in place or take shelter in the wilderness?

Several dome home designs are available at Intershelter.com . Intended for disaster, the military and other uses, including a solution for the homeless, these fiberglass composite shelters are pre-drilled with bolt holes, quick to assemble, and they’re small enough in pieces to fit into the bed of a pickup truck.

They’re built to sustain hurricane-strength winds and large enough for an entire family. The original 14-footer with a height of 9 feet at the centre offers 154 square feet and weighs 600 pounds. A 20-foot version offers 314 square feet and is 12 feet high at the centre.

The Juneau, Alaska, company offers price quotes online, depending on what size, insulation, flooring and window options are chosen. Lots of colours for one’s dome are available: bright yellow or hot pink, anyone? Base prices range from $7,500 to $12,500.

The best part: Join domes for multi-room dwellings, or future cities.

WHEN EVEN THE DARK WEB GOES DARK

So, there you are, in your emergency dome, eating your emergency food, drinking your fully filtered water. Now what?

Is there life in the way of entertainment with no internet? There’s not a People magazine in sight.

Anne Washburn has written a dark comedy, “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play,” that offers an idea or two on exactly how to pass the time post-apocalypse. The key, Washburn thinks, is  “The Simpsons.”

Picture a group of survivors around a campfire struggling to remember a certain Simpsons episode. Specifically, it’s the one based on the film “Cape Fear.” Now, picture the same group quickly transforming into a theatre troupe, recalling better pop culture days in song and dance, Simpsons masks on.

Because, why?

“You would really want things to be comforting and familiar, and exactly the way you remember them,” Washburn explains of “Mr. Burns” at Playwrighthorizons.org.  “The way it is for small kids after a crisis. The way it is for anyone after a crisis. You really want to remember how things were.”

Holiday juggling: Businesses balance customer, worker needs

By Joyce M. Rosenberg

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK _ Before the holiday season, employees at Andrea Correale’s catering business get an email reminder that in December, “we need all hands on deck.”

Elegant Affairs Caterers often has 12 events in a single day during the holidays, so Correale needs her staff of 230 to show up for work. Her email puts everyone on notice that during the two weeks when most clients have holiday parties, work needs to be the priority.

“If it’s crunch week and we’re not covered, everyone gets stressed out,” says Correale, whose Glen Cove, New York-based company caters events on Long Island and in New York City.

The holiday season is prime time at many small businesses, and they may not have enough staff to accommodate the extra work as well as the time off many employees want. Retailers, caterers and even many companies whose work isn’t connected with holiday celebrations have to find ways to keep their staffers happy, along with their customers. Many find that advance notice _ even before a worker is hired helps set expectations and limit disappointments. Bosses also find that they do need to be flexible.

Correale recognizes that even on the busiest days, some staffers want to attend their children’s concerts and other holiday events. She requires them to ask in advance. And she uses flexible scheduling: If employees need to leave early for an event, they can come in a few hours early to make up the time. And if there’s a last-minute request, “we usually get aggravated, but you figure something out,” says Correale.

Rob Basso deals with holiday issues from two perspectives his company, Advantage Payroll Services, provides human resources consulting along with paycheque processing.

His small business clients ask for guidance about how to get work done while also letting staffers have time off. He recommends being as flexible as possible, although a company’s size and line of work will dictate how generous a boss can be.

“A company may have 400 employees and some are not critical day-to-day, so it may not be necessary for all of them to be there. But if there are five people in a bakery, it’s not going to be so easy,” says Basso, whose company is based in Freeport, New York.

Basso also tends to get many new clients at the end of the year. So when he hires staffers, he lets them know that most of December is blacked out for vacations. He does give employees the flexibility to leave early or come in late as long as they make up their hours. And rather than granting requests by seniority, he has a lottery to let about a fifth of his staff leave at noon on either Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.

“Just because you worked for me a few extra years, I don’t see how it’s fair to always give the same people time off,” Basso says.

Human resources consultant Crystal Barnett says it’s in a company’s best interest to be flexible.

“It’s a fine line you need to walk because you need to take care of whatever your business requirements are, but you also want to recognize that the person who works for you is not a robot,” says Barnett, who works in the Atlanta office of Houston-based HR provider Insperity.

Employees’ expectations, especially among younger people, have changed from a generation ago, and companies that want to attract and retain good workers need a culture that accommodates their desire for a balance between work and personal time, Barnett says.

Owners should also look for ways to make the atmosphere more fun even as staffers are working harder, Basso says. He caters breakfast or lunch for his employees at least once a week during the holiday season.

“Everyone takes a break,” he says.  “And it’s not expensive for me to do it.”

The weeks leading up to New Year’s Day are critical at LogicPrep, whose services include advising high school students during the college admissions process. Many seniors must have their applications in by Jan. 1, and juniors are preparing for the SATs and other college entrance exams.

“We make it clear during the interview process what our calendar cycle is and why it’s important to prioritize during the holiday season,” co-founder Lindsay Tanne says. She does get some last-minute requests for time off, but her 40 staffers know that work generally must come first.

“They build their lives around the knowledge of what we do,” says Tanne, whose company is based in Armonk, New York.

At Super Suds Car Wash in Midlothian, Virginia, owner Jeremy Critton follows the example of retailers and package delivery services during the busy season.

“I usually try to staff up a couple extra employees to be on the safe side and just spend a little more on labour to make sure I’m covered in any sort of a bind,” Critton says. He gets more business during the holidays from people who want their cars to look spiffy when they visit friends and family.

Critton also lets his staffers know ahead of time they need to work during the holidays. He’s occasionally had to let employees go when they asked too often to take time off with little or no notice.

Some companies that go full tilt during the holidays find that with no time to plan or take off, a party for their own staffers is likely to occur after New Year’s Day.

“In our world, the year-end is like the Super Bowl,” Basso says.  “So in mid-January, maybe later, we have a big blowout.”

Why should summer have all the leafy fun? Try a winter salad

By Melissa D’Arabian

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Summer may officially be the season of green salads, but wintertime versions have advantages that make them worth exploring.

The cooler weather seasonable greens are hearty and darker green, which makes them nutrient-rich. And, these thicker-leaved greens such as kale or spinach, can hold up to the addition of warm ingredients, opening up the possibilities for topping your salad with roasted goodies in a way that delicate butter lettuce never could.

Have some hearty root veggies in the fridge? Toss them (and some whole garlic cloves _ yum!) in some olive oil and roast them up, and add warm to raw kale leaves with lemon juice, Parmesan and black pepper and you’ve got a winter salad rivaling anything you’d make in July.

Today’s recipe takes inspiration from this season’s holiday cooking pantry ingredients that I always seem to have on hand. Apples, leftover from apple pie, are the salad’s real star, while the pumpkin vinaigrette _ also of pie fame _ plays an important supporting role.

I cut the apples into small cubes and quickly roast them in a little salt and rosemary at high heat, and the little cubes turn into sweet, herbaceous nuggets of flavour _ like raisins, but better _ and make other ingredients almost unnecessary. I add leftover turkey for protein, almonds for crunch and tomatoes for a tiny bit of acid.

You could even add blue cheese or feta if you happened to have some floating around the house, leftover from a cheese party platter. Feel free to swap out ingredients to match your pantry: As long as you are topping winter greens with something warm, whether roasted Brussels sprouts or pan-seared salmon, you’ll be on your way to a tasty winter green salad.

GREEN SALAD WITH PUMPKIN VINAIGRETTE AND ROASTED APPLES

Servings: 4

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Salad:

2 large tart apples (such as Granny Smith), cut into 1-inch cubes (unpeeled), about 3 cups

2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary

5 cups baby spinach or kale, or other hearty greens

1/2 cup baby tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 1/2 cups shredded cooked white meat chicken or turkey

1/4 cup marcona almonds

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Olive oil in a mister

Pumpkin Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary

1 teaspoon minced shallot

a few turns of freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the cubed apple on a parchment-line baking tray and spray with an olive oil mister to coat the cubes. Sprinkle on the minced rosemary and salt, and gently toss the cubes to coat. Bake just until tender and edges are starting to turn golden, about 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool just a few minutes. While the apples are roasting, make the vinaigrette. Place the pumpkin puree, water, vinegar and maple syrup in a small bowl. Whisk the olive oil into the mixture until well-blended. Add the rosemary, shallot and black pepper and stir.

To assemble the salad: place the spinach in a bowl or platter and top with the tomatoes, chicken, almonds and warm, roasted apples. Drizzle with pumpkin vinaigrette, toss, and serve.

___

Nutrition information per serving: 239 calories; 75 calories from fat; 8 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 336 mg sodium; 21 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 20 g protein.

___

Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.”

Remembrance Day Tribute: The Last to Fall

In the late morning hours of November 11, 1918 the 28th North West Battalion, 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade, under heavy German machine gun fire, crossed the Canal du Centre into the Belgian town of Ville-sur-Haine.

The patrol, intent on finding the machine gunner who had harassed them during the crossing, moved toward a row of houses along the canal. They entered the first home, only to discover the Germans had fled out the back. The patrol pursued to the neighboring house, but again, they were too late, the Germans had fled.

A twenty-five year old Canadian soldier stepped out of the house onto the street and was fatally shot in the heart by a German sniper. His name was George Lawrence Price. The time was 10:58 AM, two minutes before the 11:00 AM armistice cease-fire to end the Great War.

Born and raised in Falmouth, Nova Scotia, George Lawrence Price was the last allied soldier to be killed in World War I.  His body was laid to rest at the St Symphorien military cemetery, just southeast of Mons, in Belgium.

In 1968, at the 50th anniversary of his death, surviving members of his battalion erected a plaque near the spot where he fell, which read:

To the memory of 256265 Private George Lawrence Price, 28th North West Battalion, 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division, killed in action near this spot at 10.58 hours, November 11th, 1918, the last Canadian soldier to die on the Western Front in the First World War. Erected by his comrades, November 11th, 1968.

This November 11, please take a moment to remember all those who have fallen.

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