More than half of Canadians (57 percent) plan to spend the same amount on holiday shopping this year as they did in 2013,  according to a survey by the professional services firm Deloitte.  Just more than a third plan to spend less, while a mere eight percent planned to spend more. 

That careful spending can be reduced further — or transform into rewards in 2015 — if consumers take advantage of promotions and points related to their loyalty programs. More consumers have grown savvy to this opportunity — 60 percent of U. S. loyalty program members plan to use loyalty rewards for their holiday shopping this year, according to research by COLLOQUY, highlighted in Jeff Berry’s column Holiday Package. That’s an 11 percentage-point increase from 2013. Canadians are likely the same.

Special promotions for loyalty members

Shoppers trying to manage spending can keep an eye out for exclusive deals that come with loyalty memberships. More merchants are offering special promotions and events, and new players are entering the fray. Here are some opportunities to look out for:

  • Shop under the mistletoe Some merchants host private events and contests exclusive to loyalty members, and as competition for holiday dollars heats up, others are likely to do the same. SCENE Rewards regularly hosts events and contests through which members can earn prizes and tickets to events. In Calgary, Nordstrom (which begins expanding through Canada in 2015) hosted a Holiday Private Shopping Party December 7 for invited Debut Rewards members. Shoppers can check directly with their merchants, or visit their websites, to learn of special promotions.

"60 percent of U. S. loyalty program members plan to use loyalty rewards for their holiday shopping this year, according to research by COLLOQUY."

  • Regifting Some loyalty programs give bonus points and savings when members shop through multiple channels, or use co-branded credit cards. Members of Indigo books’ Plum Rewards program, for instance, earn an additional five percent off when they purchase books online. Meanwhile, Canada’s two largest coalition programs, Aeroplan and AIR MILES, offer members a way to earn points and miles faster across scores of brands and redeem them at whichever participating merchants they wish. 
  • Free to the tree Several merchants offer free shipping to loyalty members, which alone can translate to the cost of a couple gifts. Amazon Prime, a fee-based program, offers free two-day shipping on qualifying orders, ensuring on-time delivery for last-minute shoppers. Lululemon, which does not have a formal loyalty program but does have a community of loyal ambassadors, offers free shipping as well.
  • Wrapping up points Many loyalty programs include a donation function through which points can be gifted to a charity.  Others, including Hilton’s HHonors program,  allow members to set up registries where friends and family who are members can transfer points as gifts. Likewise, members can transfer their own points to other members.

As the holidays near, consumers can expect other promotions and opportunities to pop up. And even if shoppers go a little over budget, ideally they will get more for their money — this year and next.