MONTREAL - Canadians will spend one to two per cent more this holiday season, but an increasing number will check for the best prices online before they head to the mall, a new study suggests.

"We think it's a highly price competitive Christmas," said Brent Houlden, Canadian retail practice leader at Deloitte, which released its 2012 holiday outlook survey Thursday.

Due to online price checking before going to the mall, shoppers are that much more demanding that "we get the real value up front," Houlden said from Toronto.

The study said 60 per cent of those surveyed will use the Internet during their holiday shopping for prices and research, up from 49 per cent in 2011.

Pricing loomed large in the holiday trends survey with 64 per cent of participants saying they will choose where they shop based on a store's low prices.

The survey didn't ask participants how much they would spend. Instead, it asked how many gifts they planned to buy.

Those surveyed said they would buy between one and 10 gifts with the top choices being gift cards followed by clothing and toys. Tech gifts ranked sixth on this year's wish list after having been at the top of the list in previous years.

Houlden said gift buying will be spread among online offers, U.S. retailers operating in Canada and cross-border shopping, helping keep prices competitive.

"Canadians are always trying to find the best price in Canada and then they go, 'Oh, what would it be in the States?' So we're doing a double price check all of the time."

But the Deloitte poll found that 67 per cent of those surveyed said they didn't plan to do cross- border shopping in the United States this holiday season.

Another 42 per cent responded that they would decrease the level of cross-border shopping over time as U.S. retailers open up in Canada. Discount retailer Target will open in Canada in 2013.

"So we hope cross-border shopping is at a peak."

Canadians on a jaunt to the U.S. for two and seven days are now allowed to declare $800 of goods, up from $400, while the limit for visits of more than a week increased to $800 from $750.

As for buying gifts online, about 55 per cent of Canadians surveyed plan to complete some of their shopping online.

The survey found that just 40 per cent planned to use their smartphone or tablet to buy online, but 70 per cent would use these devices for product research.

Houlden said shoppers are now checking prices in stores with their smartphones making it "tough on the sales associate" to stay current.

Regionally, almost 70 per cent of residents in the Greater Toronto Area planning to do some of their holiday transactions online.

More Montrealers would go cross-border shopping with 26 per cent surveyed saying they would make the trip, compared with 15 per cent in 2011.

Maritimers have the most interest among Canadians to shop at outlet malls if they're close to where they live, the survey said.

Last year, the Deloitte survey found that Canadians were less likely to splurge on holiday shopping due to pessimism about the economy and people choosing to pay down their debts.

The online poll was conducted between Sept. 21-27 with 2,349 Canadians.

The polling industry's professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

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Last Year's Top Toys For Christmas From The Experts
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  • Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse

    For the kid who loves to think big -- real big. This Barbie dreamhouse has three stories, seven rooms, and an elevator. Recommended Age: 3 years and up Price: $150

  • Air Hogs Hyperactives Pro RC Vehicle

    For the kid who loves speed. The Air Hogs Hyperactives Pro RC vehicle lets kids defy gravity, attempt crazy climbs and gives them the ability to take full control.<br> Recommended Age: 4 to 6 years<br> Price: $45

  • Bizu TV Style Studio

    For the next big jewellery designer. The Bizo TV studio lets children transform over 15, 000 combinations of accessories into collectables. <br> Recommended Age: 6+ years <br> Price: $25

  • Cars 2 Air Hogs

    For the kid who wants to get in the driver's seat. Cars 2 fans can bring their favourite Cars characters to life with Air Hog's fully-controlled replicas. <br> Recommended Age: 5 to 7 years <br> Price: $50

  • Hot Wheels Wall Tracks

    For the creative kid who loves to build and rebuild. Wall Tracks brings stunts, speed and trucks to new heights. Kids can create and build their own tracks -- right on the wall. <br> Recommended Age: 4 to 6 years<br> Price: $45

  • Lalaloopsy Doll

    For the next cheerleader in your household. The Peppy Pom Poms version includes fashion accessories and pet dog. <br> Recommended Age: 5 to 7 years <br> Price: $35

  • Leappad Explorer

    For the kids who love to be challenged -- and learn. The LeapPad tablet is equipped with over 100 games and includes a built-in camera and voice recorder.<br> Recommended Age: 4 to 9 years<br> Price: $110

  • Lego Ninjago

    For the kids with a large imaginations. Lego Ninjago lets kids create their own playground and train an ultimate ninja team. The Set includes a spinner, three mini-figures, four weapons, character cards and four battle cards.<br> Recommended Age: 7 to 14 years <br> Price: $65

  • Let's Rock Elmo

    For the kid who always wanted to be a rock star. Donning a black tee, tambourine and drum set, Let's Rock! Elmo takes the stage singing and creating music.<br> Age: 18 months and up<br> Price: $75

  • Monster High Fearleading Squad

    For the kid who always wanted his or her own squad with an alternative twist. The girls in Monster High include fashion accessories, come with a set of pom poms and a Skullete megaphone. <br> Recommended Age: 6 to 12 years <br> Price: $50

  • My Playful Pup

    For the kid who always wanted a puppy. This life-like dog wags her tail, moves her head in and makes puppy talk when pet lovers talk to her. Plus, parents won't have any mess to clean up.<br> Recommended Age: 5 to 7 years <br> Price: $65

  • Nerf Vortex Praxis

    For the kid who likes to take control. The Nerf Vortex Praxis, with pump-action power and a removable 10-disc clip lets warriors go the distance and take down targets. <br> Recommended Age: 7 to 14 years <br> Price: $30

  • Pokemon Carry Case

    For the kid who wants to catch them all. This Pokemon carry case allows kids to travel and collect their favourite Pokemons. It also includes three bonus figures. <br> Recommended Age: 5 to 7 years <br> Price: $35

  • Moshi Monsters

    For the kids who want to create their own monster world. The Moshi Monster virtual village lets kids buy their own furniture, food and toys for their monster. Not to mention the plush versions are super cute. <br> Recommended Age: 5+ years <br> 1 pack: $3 <br> 3 pack: $7 <br> Plush: $13 <br>

  • Power Rangers Samurai

    For the kid -- and adult --who loves the old-school Power Ranger. The Samurai Megazord consists of five animal vehicles that stand over 10 inches tall. <br> Recommended Age: 5 to 7 years <br> Price: $35

  • Redakai Starter Pack

    For the kid who loves to duel. Redakai's starter pack lets gamers start training to become the next master Kairu warrior.<br> Recommended Age: 4 to 11 years <br> Price: $16

  • Smurfs

    For the kid who loves little blue men and women. And parents, you may have some nostalgic moments as well. These 23-inch plush toys from the classic show and recent film includes Papa Smurf, Smurfette and Clumsy.<br> Recommended Age: 4 to 6 years<br> Price: From $18 to $35

  • Stars Wars Hoth Echo Base

    For the kids who wish they could travel to outer space. This Star Wars LEGO sets lets kids build their own ice planet base and prepare for any enemies. <br> Recommended Age: 7 to 14 years <br> Price: $120

  • Skylanders Spyros Adventure

    For the kid who loves video games. The Skylanders have used their magical powers to protect Skylands but now, an evil tyrant has frozen them and banished them to Earth. Only gamers can bring them back to life and be the heroes. Available for Xbox, Wii and Sony PS3.<br> Recommended Age: 10+ years <br> Price: $70

  • Transformers Ultimate Optimus Prime

    For the kid who is eager to join the Autobots. Let the battle begin, Optimus Prime's blasting battle sounds, weapon lights and launching missile sounds are the perfect features for this robot. <br> Recommended Age: 5 to 7 years <br> Price: $90