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2021 travel plans up in the air, but most Canadians won’t be: CPA Canada Survey

Food, transportation and home renovations top the list of Canadians’ anticipated increased expenses this summer

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With summer fast approaching, many parts of the country continue to remain under lockdown or heavy restrictions due to COVID-19. Against this backdrop, 79 per cent of Canadians admit they are concerned about how safe it is to travel and many are planning not to, according to a new survey conducted by Chartered Professional Accounts of Canada (CPA Canada).

When asked about their vacation plans for the summer, responses from the CPA Canada 2021 Summer Spending Study reflected caution and uncertainty as 30 per cent of Canadians are not planning to take a vacation this summer, 35 per cent are still undecided or delaying their vacation decisions, 15 per cent plan to take vacations within the area they live and only 22 per cent plan to vacation outside of the area where they live.

Of the 22 per cent who plan to vacation outside of the immediate area where they live:

  • Seventy one per cent plan to travel within their province or territory
  • Thirty six per cent plan to journey to another province
  • Fourteen per cent are planning a U.S. vacation
  • Ten per cent are prepared to venture outside Canada and the U.S.

Thirty-five per cent anticipate spending more on transportation fuel this summer than they did in the summer of 2020, with 18 per cent plan to spend more on short-term vacation rentals. However, only 22 per cent anticipate increased travel and vacation costs from last summer.

“A high proportion of Canadians are either not planning to take vacations or are holding off on their decision,” says Doretta Thompson, CPA Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader. “Thirty per cent are not planning to take a vacation at all this summer. We asked a similar question in 2019 and, back then, only 18 per cent weren’t planning to take a vacation.”

Canadians will be keeping themselves busy at home

While respondents were most likely to say they spend the most amount of money in the winter (30 per cent) compared to other seasons, summer (26 per cent) is a close second.

Over half of Canadians (51 per cent) anticipate that their overall household spending will remain the same this summer as last year, however, a notable 38 per cent anticipate that their household spending will increase in 2021. Interestingly, there was no drastic difference in Canadians’ anticipated spending this year when compared to pre-pandemic years, with nearly half of respondents (44 per cent) reporting that they expect their household spending to be the same as a typical pre-pandemic summer and only 29 per cent expecting to spend less this year than they did in a typical pre-pandemic summer.

Aside from travel, Canadians will be keeping busy in other ways, with 34 per cent of respondents anticipating they will spend more on home renovations and property maintenance, while 22 per cent expect to spend more on entertainment than they did last summer. Food tops the list of categories anticipating increased spending this summer, with 43 per cent of respondents expecting to spend more than they did in the summer of 2020.

Overall, despite some shifts in how Canadians plan to spend money this summer, expenditure levels appear to be relatively on par with previous years, albeit targeted less on vacations than in the past. The possibility of unexpected summer expenditures remains the leading cause of stress for many Canadians, as was the case even prior to COVID-19.

Survey Methodology

Nielsen conducted the CPA Canada 2021 Annual Summer Spending Survey via an online questionnaire, from April 19 to 30, 2021, with 2,001 randomly selected Canadian adults, aged 18 years and over, who are members of their online panel. A background document can be found online at: https://cpacanada.ca/summerspending2021 as well as an infographic.

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