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The Globe and Mail

Canadians show their thriftier side on Father’s Day

I have not picked up anything for Father's Day.

That's because I've become one of those last-minute gift people. I also blame my husband, who hasn't told me what he wants, and our toddler, who is of little help in the suggestions department.

But whenever I get around to it, I'm apparently going to be among the 66 per cent of Canadians who will shell out an average of $86.

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That's according to a BMO Bank of Montreal survey of Father's Day spending habits.

The report released Friday - with two days to spare before the special occasion - also found that while men are the bigger spenders on dad ($97) than women ($77); more women (71 per cent) are likely to buy something than men (61 per cent).

The survey also showed regional differences in generosity. Residents in Atlantic Canada are the most spendthrift at $106, while those in Quebec are the most frugal at $62.

The survey was conducted from June 1-6 through a Pollara online sample of 1,001 Canadians. The results are considered accurate within 3.1 per cent 19 times out of 20.

Interestingly, Canadians appear to be more thrifty than Americans.

According to the U.S. National Retail Federation, shoppers there will fork out an average of $117.14 (U.S.) on Father's Day gifts, up from $106.49 in 2011.

Laura Parsons, a Calgary-based area manager with BMO, said she wasn't surprised by difference. American consumers typically spend more, and Canadians are better cutting costs, she said.

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"We look for more bargains and we utilize our rewards more," she added.

This is the first year BMO has conducted its survey, but the world's largest retail trade association has been tracking spending in the U.S. for years. It has been creeping upward since 2010 after years of decline and is expected to hit $12.7-billion this year the federation reports.

Even if dads don't know what they want, the U.S. survey of 8,789 adults suggested that gift givers know what they planned to buy.

The top gift choice among respondents were special outings, such as restaurant meals, entertainment events or sporting activities. The next most popular options included electronics, clothing and gift cards. That was followed by books or music and sporting goods.

However people decide to shower their dads with love, Ms. Parsons reminds consumers to stick to a budget, look for sales, check return policies or cash in rewards points.

Still, it's tough not to get overwhelmed.

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Ads, flyers and inboxes are filed with last-minute gift ideas and coupon codes, while financial commentators are quick to offer budget-friendly Dad's Day tips. I had to laugh when the Holt Renfrew gift guide arrived by e-mail this week with suggestions including ties, clothes and cologne, a few days after Investopedia posted a column, which counted ties, clothes and cologne among the top Father's Day gifts that dads regret getting.

Regardless of what they think of their presents, Canadian dads can revel in one thing: Mothers are seemingly no match for fathers.

According to BMO, people spent an average of $2 less on their moms for Mother's Day.

That's not a surprise to Ms. Parsons, who has received her own share of homemade gifts and items from the heart.

"Fathers are harder to buy for," she said.

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