2014 Online Shopping for the Holidays in Canada (Statistics)

The data is flowing in for the 2014 holiday season and we’re seeing more numbers for Canada than ever before. For this article, we’re focusing on which Canadians are buying what.

How important are these insights into Canadian holiday shopping habits? VERY important, when you consider Canadians spent $2.8 billion online in December 2012, and you can bet that’s peanuts compared to what will be spent in December, 2014. MasterCard’s annual survey indicates 51% of Canadians will shop online in 2014, spending an average of $551 on gifts overall.

Plus, there are differences between the US & Canada when it comes to gift shopping so you can’t rely on US data for Canadian campaigns.  For example, RetailMeNot’s 2014 consumer survey indicates Canadians love to give food and entertainment gifts (63%), whereas the American top gift choice is clothes (67%).

For perspective, the most popular products bought overall online by Canadians (as per Forester Research) are:

Music 61%
Software 57%
PC’s 47%
Peripherals 43%
Event Tickets 41%
Video Games 41%
Videos 35%
Books 35%
Consumer Electronics 26%
Movie Tickets 24%
Flowers 17%
Toys 13%
Jewelry 13%
Apparel 10%
Footwear 9%

In a 2014 survey, Ipsos asked online Canadians what they were buying and where they were buying it:

  • Beauty and Cosmetics accounted for 29% of Canadian online shopping (up 6%).
  • Household Goods were purchased online by 23% of Canuck consumers (up 5%).
  • Pet Products were bought online by 17% of Canadian Internet shoppers (up 6%).
  • Groceries were ordered online by 15% of Canadians (up 5%).
  • Prescription Eye Wear accounted for 15% of online purchases in this country (up 4%).
  • 24% of Canadians love to shop at Amazon most (up 4%).
  • 10% enjoy shopping at eBay (unchanged from from 2013).

Plans and Predictions for the 2014 Holiday Shopping Season

2014 Online Holiday Spending in Canada (Statistics)The top gift choices according to Deloitte are:

Gift cards/money
Food or alcohol
Health & beauty

Ernst & Young foresees the following items as being the most popular gifts this year:

Gift Cards

They note that new product releases for smart phones will help drive traffic, which will result in more sales in this category.

Online shopping isn’t just for the young either, according to the Autumn Ipsos survey:

  • 92% of 18-34 year old Canadians shopped online in the past year.
  • 82% of 35-54 year old Canadian consumers shopped online.
  • 74% of online Canadians over 55 made online purchases.

Ernst & Young also reports that 2014 holiday sales throughout Canada are expected to be “uneven”:

  • Alberta and British Columbia will continue to show the strongest sales results.
  • 2014 sales in Manitoba and Saskatchewan will come in below 2013, as GDP growth weakens.
  • Ontario sales gain will reflect the national average.
  • Sales in Atlantic Canada will be below all other provinces.
  • Quebec sales will be soft as consumer confidence reacts to restrained government spending.

“Retailers should invest in better mobile-enabled technology and enhanced websites for tablet users,” E&Y advises. “They should also consider a significant shift in spending to digital advertising and social media.”

Accenture’s 2014 holiday shopping survey found 60% of Canadian consumers plan to spend the same as last year on holiday purchases, while 21% plan to spend more. Of the Canadian shoppers planning to spend more, 42% plan to increase their spending by $250+ compared to 2013. The big news from this survey is that considerably less Canadians intend to cross-border shop this holiday season, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Only 25% will do almost all of their cross-border holiday shopping online.

“It is not surprising to see cross-border shopping will be down this year, considering the lower Canadian dollar and that a growing number of Canadian retailers have been proactive with preventing holiday spending dollars from fleeing south of the border by offering more Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals,” said Kelly Askew, Managing Director, Strategy at Accenture. “The arrival of more American-based retailers in Canada has provided Canadians with options they once could only find in the U.S., which helps to encourage consumers to stay and spend in Canada.”

A Solutions Research Group 2014 poll found that 2/3 of online Canadian participants had made a purchase online in the past month. Almost half of them were 30-49 years of age. About 25 of respondents said they would do most of their shopping in retail stores. 29% said they would do about half of their shopping online and 11% would do most of their shopping online.

To fully benefit from the online shopping & research crowd, the key is a smooth multi-channel experience. Make it easy for shoppers to utilize the Internet and mobile devices while taking them smoothly into your store when they want to be there.

If you’re one of the many Canadian retailers without an eCommerce website, it isn’t too late to grab some of those online shoppers. There are a number of ways Canadian business owners or solopreneurs can take advantage of this wave of online shopping.

  1. If you sell products from your own inventory, you can build an eCommerce website or add a shopping cart to your existing website. You’ll need a website host or eCommerce platform with a Canadian-friendly shopping cart.
  2. Easily recruit an online sales team by starting an affiliate program through a network. In a very short time you can have your products or services advertised on countless websites and you’ll only have to pay a small percentage when they make a sale.
  3. You could sell in online marketplaces or use Fulfillment by Amazon, either exclusively or in combination with your own website sales.
  4. If you’re an aspiring online entrepreneur, you could try skipping the inventory through drop-shipping or affiliate marketing.

Do you have any special plans to target Canadians shopping online in 2014? Please share in the comments below.

You may also be interested in reading:
Increase Holiday Traffic and Conversions with Guest Posting
Connected Canadians: eCommerce and Internet Use Statistics
82% of Online Canadians Shopped Online Recently


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Melody McKinnon
Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website

Melody McKinnon is an internet entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in a wide range of online business models, backed by a formal business education and enhanced by training and mentorship. She has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available from all major ebook retailers.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadianDigitalMedia.com, 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.

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So happy to hear! Thanks for statistics again.


Wow, it’s awesome how you bring the data together from all over the place! Thank you!

T. Gilbert

Little early to say if it’s the holidays but we’ve had a good year and sales are up for Nov.