Welcome to our annual compilation of Canadian holiday season online shopping forecast data and statistics. Sharing a combo of Canadian online shopping predictions in one place, allows our readers to quickly evaluate their marketing and sales strategies. As we update throughout the holiday season, you can make strategic adjustments to ensure a highly profitable fourth quarter.
Canadian eCommerce has never looked better than it does in the 2016 holiday season. The forecast data we’ve gathered for you has been positive, with mobile and omni-channel demands growing exponentially. If you need to get your products online in time for the holiday season with mobile and omni-channel functionality, the most popular eCommerce platform choice is Canada’s Shopify.
“With regards to Canadian retailers, it’s not surprising that more than half of respondents shopping within Canada are shopping online,” said Craig Calvert, Director of Customer Solutions, UPS Canada. “We continue to see an increase in e-commerce, which plays a key role in the growth and success of Canadian small and medium sized businesses.”
2016 Holiday Season – Canadian Online Shopping Forecast Data
Canadians are doing more and more of their shopping online, citing convenience, crowds and selection as their primary motivators.
“It’s only mid-November and I’m already wanting to throw in the towel in trying to fight the shopping crowds,” laments Christina Brewer in New Brunswick. “I wish every business had an online store. If I need it, or want it and I can get it online that is how I will get it. Saves me time, frustration, and generally you have access to much more choices. “
Ernst and Young is predicting 3.5% growth in Canadian retail sales for the 2016 holiday season. Statistics from the 2016 Accenture Canada Holiday Shopping Survey indicate 39% of Canadian shoppers intend to spend more this year, up 5% from last year. The same survey found Canadians will spend an average of $873 on holiday shopping, up 17% from 2015. The optimistic prediction is due to lower gas prices, less cross-border shopping, the federal middle class tax cut and consumer confidence.
Statistics from Google/Ipsos revealed more than 70% of Canadian holiday shoppers visited a website in December, 2015. Accenture found 38% of Canadians plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping online in 2016, up 15% from last year. Additionally, they’ll be inclined to keep their shopping dollars in Canada. 45% plan to purchase from Canadian brands.
2016 Canadian holiday sales will vary by region, according to data from the Ernst and Young forecast:
- British Columbia will enjoy the most retail sales.
- Alberta and Saskatchewan will see a slight YOY drop in sales.
- Ontario may exceed the national average in holiday sales due to an increased employment rate.
- Quebec sales are expected to reflect the national average.
- Atlantic Canada’s sales will fall below the national average.
What Will Canadian Holiday Shoppers be Buying?
Ernst & Young says the following gift categories will be popular in 2016:
- Health and Personal Care
- Gift cards, especially for services and experiences for Gen Z and Millennials. They enjoy shows, spas, and dining out more than products.
Don’t forget edible gifts. Statistics Canada reported that December had the highest monthly sales of candy, confectionery and snack foods at large retailers in 2015, totaling $478.5 million.
Social Commerce is Growing in Canada
A 2016 PayPal/Ipsos survey revealed that social commerce purchasing is on the rise. Social networks have made it easier by adding “buy” buttons within the respective platform. 26% of Canadians are currently buying directly from social media advertising and 54% are considering it.
Canadian consumers seek out the opinions of their friends and family via social media, along with recommendations from their favourite bloggers and social influencers. This trend has inspired many brands to reach out to influencers as part of their online marketing strategy. Family & friends still lead the way in trusted recommendations. 34% of Canadian online shoppers said they would consider purchasing from an advertisement on social media, if their family or friends recommended it. Baby Boomers are even more likely to follow the recommendation of their peers (38%), perhaps because they’re more wary of online shopping and need the extra reassurance.
What Motivates Canadians to Purchase on Social Media?
- Discounts or promotions (56%)
- The item advertised would make a good holiday gift (45%)
- They’ve shopped from the brand before (32%)
Canadians will be Merrily Using Mobile Devices in 2016
Accenture found 41% of Canadian consumers will use their smartphone to compare prices in stores, up 20% from last year. 61% of loyalty points fans and 52% of bargain shoppers looking for real-time promotion discounts, will be using their smartphone while shopping offline. 74% intend to check out a product in-store before buying it online (showrooming), while 76% will look for an item online before buying it in an offline store (webrooming).
“Canadian consumers will use their smartphones as a digital companion to in-store shopping this holiday shopping season and expect retailers to offer a seamless experience that bridges both channels,” said Robin Sahota, Managing Director of Accenture’s Retail Practice in Canada. “Applications that collect loyalty points and offer promotions are particularly popular because they let consumers save while eliminating the need to carry loyalty cards or coupons.”
Ebates Canada data shows the young and affluent are among the biggest mobile shoppers, with 50% of Millennials using their mobile device to make a purchase in the past year.
The most popular categories for Canadian mobile shoppers are:
- Entertainment (55%)
- Clothing and Accessories (54%)
- Electronics (51%)
- Cosmetics, Health and Beauty (32%)
In the Ebates Canada survey, Canadian online shoppers said their mobile device plays a part in the overall shopping process. They use mobile devices for price comparisons, deals, research and product reviews. Finding the lowest price is the top reason consumers use mobile, but they also consider the ease of transaction and a positive overall experience.
It’s more important than ever for Canadian businesses to focus on mobile to maximize holiday sales.
“More than half (55%) of Canadian online shoppers cite easy transactions as important for a good mobile experience, followed closely by the use of mobile optimized (dedicated) sites (46%), both of which were ranked higher than product quality and selection,” the Ebates report states.
Multi-Channel is the Ultimate Goal
“Cross-channel retail is not a trend, it’s a retail imperative, and the very survival of retailers depends on the seamless execution of this strategy”, says Daniel Baer, Ernst and Young Partner and National Retail and Consumer Products Leader.
The experience should be consistent across all channels, blending email promotion, mobile, in-store and online. Offering an app can draw a lot of customers. Comscore reported the number of Canadian shoppers who used retail apps increased by 15% this year.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day Shopping in Canada
The Accenture Canada Holiday Shopping Survey found that 70% of Canadians will shop on Black Friday in 2016, up 10% from 2015. The same number will shop on Boxing Day, up from 64% last year. Consumers are almost equal when it comes to predicting which bargain day will have the best deals, with 32% expecting the most savings on Boxing Day versus 28% expecting to save more on Black Friday.
A UPS/Leger survey found Millennials (63%) and households with children under 18 (57%) are the most likely to seek out Black Friday deals.
Moneris predicts Black Friday shopping will be up by 8% this year, and Cyber Monday spending at Canadian online retailers will increase by 15%.
But did these predictions come true?
According to new data from eBates Canada, they did. 46% of Canadians said they did shop on Black Friday this year (67% online). 37% shopped on Cyber Monday (89% online). On average, they finished 40% of their holiday shopping. The top three categories on both days were clothing and accessories, electronics and toys. Electronics (42%) were most popular on Cyber Monday.
The most popular type of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals were:
- Percentage discounts (75%)
- Dollar discounts (65%)
- BOGO (Buy one, get one free) discounts (18%)
Online shoppers used coupon or promo code websites (38%), cash-back websites like eBates (34%), or digital coupon/promo codes received from retailers.
Getting the Sale
The UPS/Leger study found 51% of Canadians surveyed will only shop in Canada in 2016. 43% of those respondents said it’s because they prefer to shop Canadian. Almost eight in ten Canadians want to be able to pay for their purchase in Canadian dollars when shopping online.
The PayPal/Ipsos survey saw a similar response regarding local shopping. 73% of Canadian online shoppers plan to buy holiday gifts from Canadian retailers instead of buying from US or international websites. Of those people, 43% will buy more gifts from Canadian retailers in 2016 than in 2015. 83% of Millennials in this country plan to shop online from domestic websites.
Why Canadians Choose Canadian Retailers:
- 56% of Canadians want to support local businesses and the local economy
- 51% want to avoid the cost of international shipping, taxes and duty
- 44% cite the Canadian dollar exchange rate
- 32% prefer goods that are made in Canada
“Canadian retailers are embracing e-commerce more than ever before and offering greater choice to consumers who want to shop online this side of the border,” said Kerry Reynolds, Head of Consumer Marketing at PayPal Canada. “Canadian-sold goods are in demand and the Canadian economy stands to benefit immensely from this trend.”
Canadian consumers are guided by their conscience when making purchasing decisions, according to Accenture Canada. 77% of those surveyed said a company’s reputation plays an important part in their choice of merchants, and 27% said it’s extremely important. That’s good news for small businesses that want to compete with “big box stores”. Consumers will be checking working conditions, buying policies, community involvement and ethics before they decide who will get their holiday shopping dollars.
The PayPal/Ipsos survey found Millennials are highly motivated by responsible shopping that benefits charities. 67% of Canadian Millennials plan to look online for gifts that have a charitable angle, and 26% are willing to pay more for them. By comparison, just 15% of 35-54 year olds and 7% of those 55+ consider social responsibility when shopping online.
While the top reason for shopping online is convenience, shoppers still get frustrated when they do it. 55% don’t like to shop online because they can’t touch the product, and 44% are frustrated with shipping problems.
Canadian Holiday Shipping Statistics
Last year, Canada Post delivered 2.2 million parcels on weekends over eight weeks during the holiday season. With the rapid growth of online shopping in Canada, they’re expecting to deliver over 3 million parcels on Sundays alone. Overall, they expect to deliver 7 million more holiday parcels than they did in 2015. Around a quarter of all 2016 shipments will be delivered in November and December. Canada Post predicts December 12th will be their busiest day, with around 3500 shipments being delivered every minute across Canada.
UPS/Leger 2016 data indicates 74% of Canadian women and 61% of men will only purchase products online if they’re offered free shipping. 35% of Canadians said they only buy online if the item can be shipped in less than one week. Retailers can also improve the post-purchase experience by providing shipment updates and tracking information.
Infographic: Online Shopping is the New Normal in Canada
How are you preparing for online shopping during the 2016 holiday season in Canada? Please share your eCommerce plans or questions in the comments below.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Canadian Online Holiday Shopping Records Broken in 2015
2015 Canadian Holiday Shopping Data: Who, What, Where, Why and How
Canadians Online: Statistics to Guide Your Multi-Channel Strategy
How to Start an Affiliate Program for a Canadian Business
10 Hot Product Niches to Sell or Drop Ship Online in Canada
Checklist: Choosing a Website Host for your Canadian Business
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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 over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.
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.