Canadian Holiday Shopping Data: Who, What, Where, Why and How

Everyone is wondering if Canadians will be doing more of their holiday shopping online this year, along with what they’ll be buying, where they’ll be buying it, and how they’ll be doing so in 2015. Statistically, it depends on who you ask. To provide a broader picture of this year’s predictions for those who sell online, we’re including statistics from several sources in this article.

Canadian Holiday Shopping: Who, What, Where, Why & How

An impressive overall growth rate of online retail in Canada has already been accepted as inevitable by most experts. Forester Research, for example, predicts online sales will grow significantly faster than the Canadian retail market overall. They forecast a compounded annual growth rate of 12.3% in the next five years for eCommerce, by comparison to a 2.6% growth rate for retail in general. The Vancouver Sun newspaper reports the forecast for total 2015 Canadian online sales is $23.5 to $29+ billion, with the average spent growing by 50% between 2014 and 2019. The anticipated growth has motivated many businesses to create and expand their online presence here, such as Holt Renfrew’s recent online launch.

New statistics from FedEx Canada found:

  • 71% of Canadians say they are unlikely to shop for gifts in the US this year.
  • 77% of Canadians shop online because it’s convenient.
  • 62% love the ease of price comparisons online.
  • 41% are sure there are better deals to be found online.
  • 51% appreciate the selection and variety online.

Predicted Spending for the 2015 Holiday Season in Canada

A SAS survey showed that 19% of Canadians plan to spend less on their 2015 holiday shopping than they did in 2014. However, an Ernst & Young survey says that will be offset by the promise of tax cuts, increased child tax credit, lower gas prices, and employment growth. eCommerce will see an increase of 4% as Canadians go online to find that special gift, and millennials will be driving that sleigh. Conversely, an eBates Canada survey predicts 79% of Canadian consumers will spend the same or more for gifts in 2015.

This is exciting news for everyone from the individual seller to the largest online retail stores. Even if Canadians do intend to tighten their budget, that will mean even more people will be inclined to shop in Canada to compensate for the low loonie. In fact, 31% of Canadians surveyed told Accenture that the low Canadian dollar will keep them on this side of the border.  A UPS Leger survey found that the number of Canadians who will holiday shop in the US as dropped 22% since 2014, with 56% citing the low exchange rate as the reason. Combine that with more people shopping online (85% of Canadians shop online, according to UPS), and everyone looking for Internet sales will be ending the year with a festive bang.

SAS statistics predict:

  • 45% of Canadians will do their holiday shopping online in 2015.
  • 22% of consumers will be looking for Canadian Black Friday deals on November 27th.
  • 17% of Canadian shoppers plan to buy on Cyber Monday, November 30th.
  • 55% of Canadians plan to continue to shop more after the holiday season.

eBates Canada predictions are much higher:

  • 27% of shoppers say they’ll buy more online this year than last year, citing convenience, availability/variety and better prices as the reason.
  • 45% of consumers will be looking for Canadian Black Friday deals on November 27th.
  • 40% of Canadian shoppers plan to buy on Cyber Monday, November 30th.
  • 53% of us will be scoring deals on Boxing Day.

Accenture’s 2015 Canadian holiday survey indicates:

  • 37% believe they’ll find the best deals on Black Friday. 60% will shop on Black Friday.
  • 25% think they’ll see the best bargains on Boxing Day. 64% will shop on Boxing Day.
  • 11% believe the best deals will be found on Cyber Monday. 31% will shop on Cyber Monday.

“In the past, we’ve seen Canadian consumers flock across the border to take advantage of Black Friday deals, but this year 84% are unlikely to cross-border shop,” said Craig Calvert, director of customer solutions, UPS Canada. “The market is changing and Canadian retailers have an opportunity to take advantage of consumer’s preferences to shop local by offering aggressive Black Friday deals to keep and grow their market share in Canada. As Black Friday continues to gain momentum north of the border, retailers will be forced to participate in the price slashing to meet consumer expectations, especially among Millennials who are most likely to shop south of the border.”

Provincial Fluctuations Could Make Shipping a Key Factor in Profits

One of the biggest benefits of offering eCommerce options is that the entire country (and beyond) becomes your market. You won’t have to worry as much about local economic issues, such as the fall of oil prices in Alberta.

E&Y shares the following provincial insights:

  • BC is expected to see the biggest holiday sales in 2015.
  • Ontario will see an increase that reflects national numbers.
  • Quebec may see a small growth in sales, but it’s just as likely they’ll remain the same as in 2014.
  • Atlantic Canada probably won’t see an increase in sales over 2014.
  • Saskatchewan and Alberta holiday sales will drop as expected, but only slightly.

Canadian Holiday Shopping Statistics - The Who, What, When and WhereWho and What will Canadian Shoppers be Spending on?

According to SAS:

  • $231 will be spent on kids under 18.
  • $231 will be spent on adult family members.
  • $203 will be spent on a “significant other.”
  • 28% will buy a gift for their pet.
  • 59% of Canadian shoppers will buy gift cards.
  • 53% of Canadians will purchase clothing and accessories.
  • 50% will buy toys and games.
  • 46% will pick up books, movies and games as holiday gifts.
  • 34% will seek out homemade gifts or baked goods.
  • 31% will buy something for the home.
  • 28% of Canadian holiday shoppers will select cosmetics or fragrances.
  • 28% will put electronics under the tree this year.

According to eBates data:

  • $420 will be spent by Canadians buying gifts for the holidays in 2015.
  • 67% will buy clothing and accessories.
  • 55% will purchase electronics.
  • 54% will be giving books.
  • 46% will buy toys.
  • 43% are looking for health and beauty gifts.
  • 21% will opt for sports and exercise items.

According to Leger 2015 Canadian holiday statistics:

  • 62% of holiday shoppers will purchase a gift card.
  • 40% will buy clothing and accessories.
  • 32% will be giving books and DVD’s in 2015.
  • 26% will purchase mobile and computer electronics.
  • 11% will opt for games and gaming consoles.

Where will Canadians be Shopping Online in 2015?

  • The overwhelming favourite online shopping destination for Canadians is Amazon, says Ipsos, with 31% of Canadians having shopped there recently (up from 38% in 2014).
  • 9% of Canadians will find a special gift on eBay (holding steady from 2014).
  • 4% will shop at Walmart Canada (up from 3% in 2014).
  • 4% will purchase from Chapters Indigo (remaining the same from 2014).
  • 35% of us will watch for deals via social media, according to eBates Canada.
  • 14% of Canadians with an Internet connection make purchases after clicking on a social network advertisement.
  • 21% of connected Canadians age 18 to 34 will make purchases after clicking on a social network advertisement.
  • 11% of online Canadians will buy something after seeing it on a social media post.
  • 22% of connected Canadians age 18 to 34 will buy something after seeing it on a social media post.

How Will Canadians be Shopping Online in 2015?

  • 84% of Canadians shopped online in 2015, according to Ipsos. 90% of them used a desktop or laptop device to do so.
  • 25% will shop online with their Smartphone (up 5% from 2014)
  • 24% will do their mobile online shopping with a tablet device (up 5% from 2014)
  • 4 out of 10 Millennials will shop with their Smartphone.

Accenture’s 2015 Holiday Shopping Survey revealed that 70% of Canadian consumers are interested in downloading retailer app’s to check their loyalty program (35%), find items in the store (31%) and to receive personalized offers or coupons (29%).

Multi-Channel and Engagement Should be Your Focus in 2015

While Canadian holiday shopping statistics can vary widely on key points, every expert agrees that mobile and multi-channel will be more important than ever this year.

“The way Canadians think about shopping for the holidays is changing, and retailers must offer a more enhanced mobile browsing and shopping experience to drive sales at the busiest time of year,” said Robin Sahota, Managing Director at Retail at Accenture.

“While Canadians may have a little more money in their pockets, retailers must realize that ways to engage consumers are multiplying rapidly,” explains Daniel Baer, a National Retail and Consumer Products Industry Leader. “To thrive in this omni-channel environment, retailers must be quick and agile to deliver the integrated experience consumers want. Millennials are also social-media savvy and digitally connected, meaning the smartphone and tablet will be key interactive tools for retailers.”

While mobile should be a necessary part of your holiday sales strategy in Canada, it’s only part of a bigger picture.

Mobile should be “part of a holistic digital strategy to drive continuous engagement throughout the season and into next year in stores, online, on social media, etc,” Andrew Wong, a partner with Kurt Salmon Digital, told Retail Dive. “A great example is the success some retailers have had launching coupon and gift and wish list mobile capabilities for the holidays, which ultimately continue to drive long-term engagement and purchasing.”

Don’t Neglect the Online Shopping Experience

Canadian online shoppers told UPS that the following factors are important to them:

  • 70% want transparent shipping fees.
  • 53% insist on transparent duty fees.
  • 34% would appreciate text or email updates of their shipment status.
  • 27% would like to pick up their packages at a convenient location.

A successful online business involves more than adding a shopping cart these days, but you don’t have to tackle it all at once. A multi-stage launch that includes eCommerce, content, and social media is a feasible start. Knit that together with multi-channel options and offline strategies as efficiently as possible. Once everything is in place, you can rocket-launch online sales by starting an affiliate program through a network (Share-A-Sale is a popular affiliate network among Canadian businesses). You’ll quickly build an online sales force and you’ll only pay when they send you a sale. After that, a perpetually evolving business strategy is essential to the success of your online business, because it operates within an environment that is in a constant state of evolution.

Do you need some help?

How to Use Content Marketing to Skyrocket Holiday Sales
Checklist: Choosing a Website Host for your Canadian Business
10 Hot Product Niches to Sell or Drop Ship Online in Canada

How has your digital strategy evolved for 2015? Please share your experience or questions in the comments below.

SAS Canada: New SAS data shows Canadians plan to spend less this holiday season
Ipsos Canadian Inter@ctive Trends Report
Earnst & Young
Forester Research
eBates Canada
Leger/Canadian Prepaid Providers Organization: What Canadians Really Want: 2015 Holiday Gift Trends
FedEx Canada Online Shopping Intentions Survey
Accenture 2015 Holiday Shopping Survey
UPS Leger Survey


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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,,, and, 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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really this pumping me up! These reports will be encouraging to all the business owners! thank you for all the work.

Lydia Van

Talk about pumping me up! These statistics should be encouraging to all Canadian business owners! I can’t wait to see the reports on sales for the holidays this year because I know everyone is going to do well with our dollar so low. We need it!


Your work will come in handy this Christmas…thank you!


Now that’s what I’m talkin about!! I’ve been trying to find Canadian stats since last month. I find a few here and a few there but THIS……..well THIS is EPIC! Thanks for all the work you did to help us. I may have to steal this author from you…….name your price Mckinnon!! LOL