HALIFAX -- Ol' Saint Nick may be avoiding in-person visits to shopping malls this year, but a new poll finds many Atlantic Canadians are quite comfortable Christmas shopping in store.

The mantra for many is to shop early and shop local.

For business owner Diana Krimp, the upcoming holidays are bringing a bit a optimism to her shop in downtown Dartmouth, N.S.

"All through the last year we've had a lot more people say they want to shop local -- people are just more aware that the smaller industries need help and the small businesses need the support," Krimp said.

A new poll from the Retail Council of Canada says shopping local will be a growing priority across Canada in 2020.

"They are more likely than ever this year to shop local so they can avoid any potential problems with shipping delays," said Jim Cormier of the Retail Council of Canada.

Cormier says shopping habits will be different in Atlantic Canada this year compared to the rest of Canada.

"Most Atlantic Canadians have already begun their shopping," Cormier said. "Thirty-four per cent versus 23 per cent nationally."

More Atlantic Canadians are comfortable shopping in a physical store: 54 per cent in the region compared to 39 per cent nationally.

"People have a little more confidence," Cormier said. "I think if you look at the COVID numbers in other provinces versus Atlantic Canada, that's telling."

Holiday spending intentions across Canada are lower for 2020, but 50 per cent of Canadians say they plan to spend pretty much exactly what they spent in 2019.

One finding from the poll that is steady year-to-year is more people in Atlantic Canada will dedicate more of their budget to buy for other people -- about 5 per cent more than the national average.