June 17, 2008 / 5:45 PM / 10 years ago

Canadians set to drive less as fuel costs soar

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadians are changing their eating habits and driving less because of soaring prices, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

A transit rider waits for a subway car to stop on a platform in Union Station, Toronto's main commuter hub, in downtown Toronto, May 10, 2006. REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski

But they’re not willing to abandon their savings plans or move to a smaller house to accommodate rising costs, said the poll, commissioned by Winnipeg-based Investors Group.

“What we’re finding is that Canadians are trimming, but they’re not cutting to the bone,” Investors Group financial planning expert Myron Knodel said of the survey.

Sixty-three percent of the 1,030 Canadians surveyed by the investment dealer said they will have to make cut-backs to pay for higher prices and increased energy costs.

Half are already substituting cheaper consumer products for more expensive ones, and the same number are cutting back on their car use.

“These changes are a natural response to rising pricing pressures,” Knodel said. “Canadians are giving up some of the luxury items where they can, but they’re still trying to maintain their lifestyle as much as possible.”

Only nine percent said they would consider downsizing to a smaller home, although the majority said they plan to choose a more fuel-efficient car when they make their next purchase.

Statistics Canada says food prices have only risen 1.2 percent in the last year, but most respondents said they are mulling changes to their food consumption as they expect more price hikes in the future.

Eighty-seven percent said they will eat at home rather than at a restaurant. More than half said they would give up exotic or out-of-season fruits and vegetables, and 41 percent said they would eat less meat.

Reporting by Lara Hertel; editing by Janet Guttsman

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