TORONTO -- Santa is a woman.

At least that's what BMO's 2011 Holiday Spending Outlook indicates.

BMO says that 80 per cent of households polled said the female head of family will do the majority of holiday shopping. And this year, more and more will do it online.

BMO's annual survey revealed a substantial increase in the number of women using the Internet to shop for gifts.

The figure jumped to 43 per cent from 34 per cent last year. At 49 per cent men are still somewhat more inclined than women to shop online -- but the gap is narrowing.

The survey polled 1508 Canadians and is considered accurate within plus or minus 2.5 per cent 19 times out of 20.

"There are a number of factors behind the increase in online shopping among Canadian women,'' said Su McVey, vice president of BMO Bank of Montreal.

"The ability to quickly and easily research products and compare prices and even arrange for delivery at the click of a mouse or the touch of a key pad makes it a remarkably convenient approach for busy, budget conscious and multi-tasking women,'' McVey said.

McVey noted that advances in technology such as Wi-Fi, smartphones and e-readers have helped spur this growth.

"People of all ages are becoming much more comfortable with the technology and with the security behind online shopping,'' said McVey.

Regionally, married people polled in Atlantic Canada were more likely to say the female head of household does the majority of shopping -- 87 per cent.

Online shoppers who don't want to pay priority shipping fees should make their online purchases by or before Dec. 15, BMO said.

That's the date when most retailers, especially those offering free delivery, require your order if you want a guarantee that Santa's packages will arrive by Dec. 24.