COVID-19's Financial Impact on Canadian Consumers: Week 1

image showing COVID-19 Pandemic’s Financial Impact on Canadian Consumers: Week 1

The current global COVID-19 pandemic is creating major economic and financial distress for consumers across the globe. Millions of jobs in the Canadian economy are either affected or at risk. To help organizations make decisions at a time when information on consumer impact is still emerging, TransUnion is conducting weekly surveys to better understand consumers’ perceptions and expectations in this rapidly evolving situation. Here are the main findings from the survey conducted in Week 1.

57% say household income has been impacted

COVID-19 has brought about a new reality and has impacted consumers of all generations and income levels. Data collected in the week ending March 30th, 2020 shows:

  • Nearly three out of five (57%) Canadians are currently financially affected by the COVID-19 health crisis.
  • The proportion of those negatively affected is highest in Alberta (63%) and Saskatchewan (67%).
  • The youngest generations are feeling the most strain, with a combined average of 72% indicating income being negatively affected. Gen Z reported the highest impact at 82%, with Millennials at 67%.

56% affected by reduced hours or job losses

Canadians financially affected by COVID-19 indicated this was a result of a reduction in working hours (33%) or losing their job (23%). In addition, many small business owners reported closures and/or reduced orders (9%).

Of those not currently impacted financially, 10% are expecting to be impacted at some point, while 16% are still not sure if their household income will be affected.

70% concerned about ability to pay bills and loans

Of those who say they’ve been affected financially, 70% are concerned about their ability to pay bills and loans. Impacted Canadians said they will not be able to pay:

  • Credit card debt (53%)
  • Rent (38%)
  • Mobile/wireless charges (38%)

Budget shortfall is $933.40

On average, consumers who are affected expect they’ll be short by $933.40 when paying bills or loans. They also anticipate not being able to pay their bills or loans in 5.8 weeks due to financial hardship.

33% plan to pay only a portion of bills or debt

One out of three (33%) Canadians impacted say they plan to pay only a portion of bills or debt, which means Canada’s already high debt balance per consumer will increase. To bridge the payment gap:

  • 25% plan either to borrow money from a friend or family member, or rely on government stimulus (20%)
  • 25% have reached out to lenders to discuss payment options
  • 23% say they don’t know how they’re going to pay

There is variance for payback plans across regions: In Western Canada, 29% of consumers don’t know how they’re going to pay their bills and loans, compared to 19% of Central Canadian consumers.

Almost half (48%) of the consumers impacted indicated the companies they have accounts with have not provided guidance on payment options. This indicates an opportunity for lenders to analyze their portfolios, identify and monitor customers most at risk, and develop strategies that offer relief to personal and small business customers.


Additional resources:

We’ve developed several resources to help businesses and consumers navigate this difficult time. To learn more about our weekly consumer research, and download the latest reports and infographics, visit


If you’re a consumer with questions or issues related to your personal credit report, disputes, fraud, identity theft or credit monitoring services, please visit our

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