More and more people around the world are choosing to shop online and Canadians are no exception. Online sales in Canada had been going up steadily year on year and when the pandemic hit, the number of people shopping online doubled.

Shoppers are drawn to the internet for the sheer convenience. They can browse a range of online retailers selections from the comfort of their homes, click a button to complete the purchase and have everything delivered to their door. A feature which became increasingly important during the pandemic.

How did the pandemic change Canadians’ online shopping habits and how many Canadians are now shopping online? What influences Canadian’s choices when choosing online retailers?

Read on to find the answers to these questions and many more statistics about online shopping in Canada.

Online Shopping Statistics for Canadians

  • Over eight in ten Canadians shopped online in 2020.
  • The most popular category for online shopping is computers and electronics at 42%.
  • 16% of Canadians have an online subscription to goods and services.
  • The year on year online sales increased by 110.8% from May 2019 to May 2020.
  • 52% of online shoppers are women.
  • Hyper elite shoppers, who make 41 online purchase per year, make up 60% of all online transactions.
  • 73% of online sales revenue in 2020 came from purchased made using a desktop or a laptop.
  • Amazon Canada is the most popular marketplace among Canadians with 72% saying they have bought shopped on Amazon.
  • Younger shoppers are most likely to study reviews before committing to a purchase.
  • 86% of shoppers will buy more frequently from companies that offer free shipping.
  • 77% of Canadians prefer to shop from online retails that have fraud protection.
  • 40% of online purchases are paid using credit cards.
  • 45% of purchases are made through non-Canadian websites.

Vast majority of Canadians are shopping online

The number of people shopping online in Canada went up from 73% in 2018 to 82% in 2020. The 25-44 age group was the most likely to purchase goods and services online.

Canadians over 65 years old were the least likely to shop online. There is a greater distrust in online transactions among the older generations.

What are the most popular online purchases?

The most popular categories were computers and other electronics and women’s clothing. 42% of Canadians have purchased computers and other electronic items online, while 41% have bought women’s clothing. Books were also popular at 37% and 31% of Canadians have bought men’s clothing online.

A survey of PayPal purchases showed that online sales of home office furnishings, school supplies and fitness equipment were also on the rise. More people are also ordering their groceries online with women more likely than men to do their household shopping online.

During the pandemic, more people also bought building materials and garden equipment online. These items saw a sales growth of 140%.

Numbers of online subscriptions increased during the pandemic

During the height of the pandemic in 2020, 16% of Canadians had online subscriptions for physical goods. These included subscriptions for meal kits, regular grocery orders and other physical goods.

The other physical goods included subscription services to companies such as Fabletics Canada and Shave Club Canada. There companies cater to meet specific interests and provide customers with surprise items every month.

Overall, shopping online soared during the pandemic

Between February and May 2020, retail sales were down by 17.9% as the country went into lockdown. However, it didn’t stop Canadians from shopping. They simply moved their business to online and as a result, there was a 99.3% increase in online transactions during this time.The year on year sales from May 2019 to May 2020 increased by 110.8%.

Many people switched their grocery shopping to online during the pandemic. Online orders from supermarkets went up by 34.8% between January and October 2020. The percentage of Canadians buying their groceries online rose from 5% to 17% between 2016 and 2020.

The growth of online shopping has continued after the peak of the pandemic with online shopping visits up by +25% in the twelve months ending June 2021. The visits to buy from brick and mortar retailers dropped by 3% in the same period.

Demographics of online shoppers

Couples without children are most likely to shop online at 38%, followed by 22% of the couples with children. Adults living alone are the least likely to order online at 19%.

Women are slightly more likely to shop line with 52% of the online shoppers being female. The average annual household income for Canadian online shoppers is $92,656. 45% of the shoppers live in urban areas and 36% in suburban areas.

Almost 90% of online shopping was made by residents from four provinces in 2020. Most of the online shopping revenue came from Ontario at 37.1% followed by Quebec, 21.&%; British Columbia, 14.1%; and Alberta, 13.1%.

How many online purchases do Canadians make per year?

In 2019, 58% of online shoppers belong to groups referred to as frequent, power, and hyper/elite hyper buyers and make at least seven online purchases per year. The proportion of people making at least seven yearly purchases online went up by 43% between 2016 and 2019.

People in the hyper elite group buy online 41 times in a year, and their number has doubled. Statistics for online shopping shows that hyper elite shoppers make up 60% of all online transactions. 41% of hyper elite shoppers are Millennials and 42% are couples with children. Their average household income is $106,000 per year.

Which device do people use the most when online shopping?

Most online shopping in Canada is done on computers. In 2020, the desktop share of online sales revenue was 73%. Around 25% of the revenue came from purchased made using tablets.

The online sales from desktop computers were worth $59 billion and mobile sales generated a further $19 billion in revenue. Statistics for e-commerce predict that the sales revenue will climb to $82 billion for desktop and $32 billion for mobile devices in 2023.

Amazon Canada is the most popular online marketplace

Amazon Canada has over 160 million monthly visitors and in 2019, Canadian business on the website grossed over $1 billion, which was a 40% increase from the previous year. 72% of Canadian online shopper made purchases through Amazon Canada. There are over 30,000 third party sellers based in Canada who use Amazon to sell goods with 45% selling their products outside of Canada.

Kijiji is the next popular online website in Canada with an estimated 55.81 visitors per month followed by Walmart Canada, which received around 33 million monthly visits. 9% of Canadians made purchases on eBay and just 3% bought from Etsy Canada.

Which age group is most likely to read reviews before shopping?

According to a report from the NPD Group, younger shoppers are most likely to read product reviews before buying a specific item. They are also most likely to use video content to better understand how a product works and if it is worth purchasing.

Companies are using social media to target the younger buyers. Facebook is still the most popular platform to advertise with 95% of e-merchant sellers using it. However, Instagram is growing in popularity and is used regularly by 69% of sellers.

There are peaks in online shopping around major holidays

Online orders increase around the holidays and in 2021, Canadian consumers planned to spend 37% of their budget online. The largest increases are seen in the fourth quarter from Black Friday until Christmas.

Other peak periods include Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween and Easter.

What do customers look for when shopping online?

Other than the convenience of having goods delivered to you, the vast choices and often cheaper prices, what else do shoppers look for when they shop online?

When choosing online retailers, customers look for free shipping, detailed delivery expectations and flexible return policies. As more consumers are shopping online, many businesses are adapting their business model to cater better for the online shoppers.

Online shoppers are 71% more likely to buy often from a retailer that offers faster shipping, while 86% of shoppers will frequent companies that offer free shipping. 37% of people will not complete their order if delivery information is not offered in advance.

Canadians are also more likely to shop frequently from online retails who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint. 46% of shoppers are likely to choose a greener company. Companies with loyalty programs are also likely to attract more consumers with 17% of shoppers saying it is an important criterion when buying online.

Rewards and discounts are a way to make 71% of buyers visit shopping websites more often. Having a bad return experience is one of the surest ways to stop customers returning with 79% not returning to the retailer if they had trouble returning their items.

Some people still have reservations about shopping online

26% of Canadians believe that online shopping puts them more at risk of fraud than shopping in brick-and-mortar retail stores. 77% of Canadians say they are more inclined to shop from online merchants who have fraud protection.

How are online shoppers choosing to pay for their purchases?

Online shopping statistics from 2017 showed that 40% of online shoppers worldwide use credit cards to pay for purchases closely followed by electronic payment at 39%.

28% of shoppers used debits cards and cash on deliver and bank transfers were used by 23% and 20% of the shoppers, respectively. Using Ewallets is steadily becoming more popular and is likely to account for around 27% of online payments by 2025.

Close to half of online sales go to websites outside Canada

45% of online shopping in Canada is done through websites outside the country. The main reasons Canadians choose websites in the United States, Asia and Europe are lower prices and better choice of products. 41% of Canadians named lower prices and 23% the product range as the number one reason for choosing offshore retailers.

However, 40% of Canadians are planning to shop more from Canadian companies in the future. A further 61% said they prefer deliveries handled by Canadian companies.

The global picture of online shopping

In 2020, over two billion people worldwide bought services and goods online and revenue from e-commerce reached 4.2 trillion US dollars.

Globally, 95% of people shopping online were aged between 18 and 74 in 2018. 34% of the shoppers were from Generation X and another 30% were Millennials. Only 5% of people aged 75 or over shopped online.

More people worldwide are choosing to buy their groceries online with the sector accounting for 12% of online market sales in 2020. There was an increase of 54% in grocery shopping online, bringing the total sales value up to 95.84 billion USD.

Conclusions

Statistics show that online shopping is here to stay. It got a giant boost during the pandemic, and has continued to grow even after people have been able to return to brick and mortar shops.

While Amazon is the most popular marketplace in Canada and 45% of online purchases are made through non-Canadian websites, more Canadians are planning to focus their online shopping on domestic websites in the future.

When competing for customers online, companies that offer free shipping, give detailed information about delivery times and make returns easy, do the best. They are also the most likely to get customers coming back frequently. Independent retailers who can reach consumers over a vast land mass through their digital platforms will be the best equipped to compete with giants like Amazon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Amazon Canada is the most popular marketplace among Canadians with 72% saying they have bought shopped on Amazon.

The most popular categories were computers and other electronics and women’s clothing.

Online shopping statistics from 2017 showed that 40% of online shoppers worldwide use credit cards to pay for purchases closely followed by electronic payment at 39%.

The number of people shopping online in Canada went up from 73% in 2018 to 82% in 2020.

45% of purchases are made through non-Canadian websites.

Sources