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Survey of Household Spending, 2013

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Released: 2015-01-22

Canadian households spent an average of $58,592 on goods and services in 2013, up 4.1% from 2012.

Spending on shelter accounted for 28.0% of this total, followed by transportation (20.6%) and food (13.6%). These shares were virtually unchanged from 2012.

Provincially, the highest average spending on goods and services was reported by households in Alberta ($71,429), followed by British Columbia ($61,007) and Ontario ($60,718). Households in Prince Edward Island ($47,410) reported the lowest average spending.

On average, couples with children spent $81,636 on goods and services. One-person households headed by a senior aged 65 years and older reported the lowest average spending of all household types at $29,064 in 2013.


Households spent an average of $16,387 on shelter in 2013, up 3.6% from 2012. This category includes rent, mortgage payments, repairs and maintenance costs, property taxes and utilities.

Among homeowners, average spending on shelter was $18,669 in 2013, accounting for 27.6% of their total spending on goods and services. Renters spent an average of $11,616 on shelter, or 29.5% of their goods and services budget.

Households in British Columbia allocated the highest proportion of their goods and services budget to shelter at 30.8%, while households in Newfoundland and Labrador allocated the smallest share at 22.7%.

Households in Alberta reported the highest average spending on shelter at $19,532. Households in New Brunswick averaged the lowest spending at $11,702. Spending on shelter was highest among households in population centres of one million or more at $18,485. Households in rural areas had the lowest average spending at $13,346.


Households spent an average of $12,041 on transportation in 2013, up 7.4% from 2012.

Transportation spending consisted of $10,825 on average for private transportation (which includes spending on the purchase of cars, trucks and vans, as well as their operating costs). The remaining $1,216 went to public transportation (which covered spending on public transit, taxis, air fares, intercity buses and trains). Household spending on private transportation has risen by 7.3% since 2012, while public transportation spending has increased by 7.8%.

Households in Newfoundland and Labrador reported spending the highest proportion of their overall budget on transportation costs (24.9%), followed by households in Saskatchewan (24.5%). Transportation costs made up the smallest share of household spending in British Columbia (18.3%).

Households in rural areas allocated 23.1% of their total spending on goods and services to transportation, while households in the largest population centres (population over one million) spent 19.7% of their total goods and services budget on transportation.


On average, households spent $7,980 on food, 13.6% of their total spending. Spending on food purchased from stores rose 3.3% to an average of $5,754, while spending on food from restaurants increased 2.7% to an average of $2,226.

Households in Alberta reported the highest average spending on food at $9,295, while households in New Brunswick report the lowest average spending at $6,853.

Couples with children reported the highest average spending on both food purchased from stores at $8,331, and food purchased from restaurants at $2,970. The lowest average spending on food purchased from stores was by one-person households at $3,032. Of these one-person households, those headed by a senior aged at least 65 years reported the lowest average spending on food purchased from restaurants at $761.

Health care

Households spent an average of $2,407 on out-of-pocket health care expenses in 2013, a 4.1% share of their total consumption. This included spending on health insurance premiums and health care costs (for example, prescription and non-prescription medications, eye wear and dental care) not reimbursed by a public or private health care plan.

Spending shares on health care increased with age. Households headed by a senior aged at least 65 years allocated 7.6% of their goods and services spending to health care, compared with 2.9% for households headed by someone under 30.


In 2013, 20.4% of households reported having only a cell phone and no land line, up from 15.7% of households in 2012. Ownership of at least one cell phone was reported by 84.9% of households. Cell phone ownership was highest in Alberta (90.1%) and lowest in Quebec (78.4%). Home Internet access was reported by 83.9% of Canadian households. Home Internet access was most prevalent in British Columbia (89.6%) and Alberta (88.1%) and least common in New Brunswick (78.6%) and Quebec (79.8%).

Cable was the most popular method of Internet connection, used by 39.9% of all households in 2013, followed by high-speed telephone connection at 24.7%. Wireless connections were used by 15.9% of households.

Average total expenditures

On average, households reported total expenditures of $79,012 in 2013, up 4.7% from 2012. This total includes $58,592 spent on goods and services, and represented 74.2% of total expenditure. Income taxes, pension contributions, insurance premiums and gifts of money accounted for the remaining 25.8%.

Distributing the population into five equal income groups, or quintiles, allows for examination of spending for different household income levels. The 20% of households with the lowest income spent an average of $31,417 (correction) in 2013. Of this total, 49.4% (correction) went to shelter, food and clothing and accessories. Income taxes represented 1.3% of their total expenditure.

In contrast, the 20% of households with the highest income reported spending an average of $155,888. They allocated 28.6% of their budgets to shelter, food and clothing and accessories, while 28.3% went toward income taxes.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Shares of total expenditure by income quintile, 2013
Shares of total expenditure by income quintile, 2013

  Note to readers

This release is based on data from the 2013 Survey of Household Spending (SHS), which gathered detailed information from a sample of close to 17,400 households.

Average spending for a specific good or service is calculated for all households, including those with and those without expenditures for the category. Average spending includes sales taxes.

Total current consumption refers to the sum of the expenditures for food, shelter, household operations, household furnishings and equipment, clothing and accessories, transportation, health care, personal care, recreation, education, reading materials and other printed matter, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, games of chance, and miscellaneous expenditures.

Total expenditure refers to the sum of total current consumption, income taxes, personal insurance payments and pension contributions, and gifts of money, alimony and contributions to charity.

The survey methodology combines a questionnaire with recall periods appropriate to an expenditure item and a diary of daily expenses that selected households complete over the two weeks following an interview. The diary provides more detailed information, particularly for spending on food and other frequent purchases.

In 2013, the sample size for the expenditure diary was 50% of the total sample.

Comparisons of spending between years have not been adjusted for inflation.


Data tables are also now available from the Summary tables module of our website.

The report "User Guide for the Survey of Household Spending, 2013," which is now available as part of the Household Expenditures Research Paper Series (Catalogue number62F0026M), presents information about the survey methodology, concepts and data quality. From the Browse by key resource module of our website, choose Publications.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Danielle Zietsma (613-618-0705;, Income Statistics Division.

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