2012 Canadian Holiday Sales Down, Online Shopping Up (Statistics)

Statistics Canada has released a discouraging report of December, 2012 retail sales in Canada, which declined 0.9% (excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers). Sales fell 1.6% in volume, with most merchants reporting less sales in December. All provinces reported a decrease in retail sales. RBC reported this month that 69% of Canadian shoppers stayed within their budget through the 2012 holiday season.

MasterCard Canada statistics offer good news for online merchants, however. According to their SpendingPulse Report, December online sales rose 26% in 2012 compared to 2011, totaling 6.6% of all December retail sales (exceeding US growth statistics).

“More and More Canadians are moving from researching online and then buying in stores. Instead, they are taking advantage of the convenience, safety and security of online shopping. You can browse, price compare, find the best deals and check out with your credit card, all in the comfort of your home. During the busy holiday season, that’s an attractive proposition for shoppers,” said Richard McLaughlin, Senior Vice President, Global Products and Solutions for MasterCard Canada.

December 2012 Canadian Retail Statistics from Statistics Canada2012 Canadian Holiday Retail Sales Down, Online Shopping Up

  • General Merchandise Stores: -3.7%
    – Department stores: -9.6%
    – Other general merchandise stores: +1.1%.
  • Electronics and Appliance Stores: -12.1%
  • Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book and Music Stores: -1.8%
  • Home Furnishings Stores: -1.3%
  • Clothing and Accessories Stores: +0.4%

December 2012 Canadian Online Shopping Statistics from MasterCard

  • Online Sales: +6.6% ($2.8 billion in purchases)
  • Online Sales by Comparison to December 2011: +26% (surpassing US eCommerce growth of 12.6%)
    – 43 consecutive months of year-over-year growth
    – 15 consecutive months of growth over 20%
    – The October 2012 year-over-year growth rate was 27.5%.
    – The November 2012 year-over-year growth rate was 26.4%.

“eCommerce is the new frontier for many Canadian companies looking to grow their base and put their products in the hands of consumers,” said Michael McNamara, VP of Research and Analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. “While online shopping shares typically peak during the holiday season, the size of the share in Canada this year is definitely a pleasant surprise for online merchants.”

Very pleasant indeed! Ecommerce is the future of retail sales, be it entirely web-based businesses or ‘brick and mortar’ businesses offering online shopping options. For most, eCommerce is a simple matter of getting a domain name and choosing website hosting with e-commerce support.

Decreased retail sales effect us all, but it’s clear those who are doing business online will weather the economic storm in far better shape.

Did you see an increase in online sales over the 2012 holiday season?  Please tell us about it in the comments below.

Statistics Canada
Mastercard SpendingPulse


© CanadiansInternet.com – Content on this website (all or in part) may NOT be used elsewhere without expressed permission. Content theft will result in legal action. Thank you for respecting the effort that we have put into our original content.

DISCLOSURE: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
2012 Canadian Holiday Shopping Statistics and E-commerce Tips
How Many Canadians are Online and What are They Doing? [Statistics]
The Most Anticipated Internet Business Book Releases of 2013

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED – Legitimate comments will be published after a short delay. Spam will not be published.

Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In 25 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available on Amazon.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’m convinced. I’ll start working on our website this week. Thanks for helping me make my decision, I’ve been considering it for a long time.


There’s no excuse to not be online in this day and age. Don’t let fear ruin your business!

Tammy Flin Flon

We need to get online because it won’t be long before MOST sales come from a website. Even groceries can be ordered online.


I read today that not even half of Canadian businesses have a website even without shopping options!!! That’s shameful. So much money being left on the table.

Peter TO

It seems like such a low decline but considering how far it should have jumped with Christmas shopping it’s quite a difference. I bet it was the final nail in the coffin of some stores. 🙁


We did OK for Christmas but we’ve had better years. I’ve thought long and hard about taking online orders but it seems like a huge undertaking. Sounds to be worth it though.


Informative post! I love the logic of statistics even if they’re not always bang on. I’m sending the link to my boss because I’ve been trying to convince him to open an online store for over a year. Thanks!

Shelly Clark

I wish this sluggish economy would improve! We’re entering the online ordering business this year after operating just an offline store for 23 years in the hopes of increasing our bottom line. You’re right, all our research points to online shopping as a necessary option for shoppers.