Canadians cut spending on food during recession: StatsCan


As the recession deepened in 2009, Canadians reacted by reducing how much they spent on food and other household items, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

The average household spent $7,260 on food in 2009, a decline of 2.3% versus the previous year.

The biggest drop was at restaurants, where consumer spending declined 3.7% to $1,580. Spending on food from stores fell 1.9% to $5,660.

Statistics Canada said the drop could not be blamed on lower food prices. The consumer price index for all foods rose 4.9% from 2008 to 2009.

Food accounted for 10.2% of the average household’s expenditures in 2009, about the same as the previous year. By comparison, personal taxes accounted for 20.2%, shelter 19.8% and clothing 4%.

How much Canadians spent on food depended on three things: what part of the country they lived in; their level of affluence; and demographics.

People in Nunavut allocated 17.5% of their budget toward food–the highest in the nation–versus 9.1% in Saskatchewan, the lowest.

The richest Canadians spent nearly three times as much on food as the poorest Canadians: $11,031 for high-income households and $3,889 for low-income households. However, a lot more of the average poor family's total budget went to food–16.3% versus just 7.5% for the richest households.

As might be expected, couples with children spent the most on food: $10,053 a year. Couples over 65 years of age spent $6,853, while people living alone spent $4,150.

Total household spending (everything from food to mortgages to gas and travel) declined 0.3% to $71,120 in 2009 versus the previous year. It was the first decline in consumer spending since Statistics Canada introduced the survey of household spending in 1997.

Households mainly cut back on discretionary purchases or those that could be put off for a while. That included recreation and certain household furnishings. However, spending on mobile phone services soared 13%.

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