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Holiday shoppers race through the Eaton Centre in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 23, 2002.FRANK GUNN

The shopping malls are decked and the jingle of coins can be heard in shoppers' pockets.

'Tis the season for spending!

And Canadians are feeling jollier than last year when it comes to gift giving, according to an RBC survey conducted by Ipsos Reid.

On average, Canadians are willing to dish out $640 on holiday gifts (which is still well below the average $831 an American is expected to spend).

Still, our gift budget is up from last year's average of $624. Not quite the stimulus package that Canada hoped Santa would bring, but a significant increase nonetheless, RBC says.

"It is probably a function of some degree of our [strong]economy," said Glenn Sinden, regional vice-president for RBC in Saskatoon.

If you want to score the most presents, head east: The Atlantic provinces are expected to spend the most with an average gift budget of $877. Next is Alberta with $703.

In British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan spending is expected to be around $680 a person. Ontarians are projected to spend $663.

The Grinchiest province? Quebec, with an average gift budget of $461. (So don't hold your breath for a present from your cousin in Sherbrooke.)

The amounts may seem low to some, but personal-finance experts are reminding shoppers this year that gifts aren't the only thing you'll have to drop coin on for the holidays.

"You need to think about your overall budget," Mr. Sinden said. "You want to make sure you have thought about the other things you have to budget for … food, drinks, travel through the holiday season."

A TD Canada Trust poll released Tuesday shows that once the rest of the holiday expenses are tabulated Canadians are actually spending closer to $1,100.

How much do you plan to spend on holiday shopping this year?