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Toronto Star: Online shopping second only to malls: Survey
Canadians buying goods online from around the globe, research shows.
Most Canadians associate cross-border shopping with travel to the U.S. But a new consumer survey finds that 8 per cent of the online cross-border shopper’s basket was filled with products from Asia — a fact that could create opportunities on both sides of the Pacific.

“Mall operators should reach out to Asian operators and vice versa. These retailers, if they have stores or distribution networks, should be thinking ‘where are we selling to?’ and make more of an effort in Canada,” said Maureen Atkinson, senior partner at global retail consultancy J.C. Williams Group. “It’s an opportunity both ways.”

By contrast, 55 per cent of online spending went toward products purchased in Canada, 33 per cent toward American goods and 3 per cent toward Europe goods.

The survey of 1,000 Canadians online was conducted for J.C. Williams in the middle of January and took into account the holiday shopping season. It is the first of what the firm says will be quarterly surveys of Canadian online shopping habits.

In the survey, 81 per cent of respondents said they had researched or browsed online before buying online in the past three months.
What’s more, those who shopped online reported spending more overall — online and in store — in almost all categories than those who did not shop online.

Online shoppers spent 48 per cent more in-store and online on kitchenware and homeware than respondents who did not shop online, according to the survey. They spend 38 per cent more on sports and leisure equipment and 36 per cent more on health and beauty products.

Customers still value bricks-and-mortar when it comes to shopping for furniture: nearly 82 per cent of respondents made their last furniture purchase in-store.

Overall, survey participants who shopped online spent almost twice as much on gifts as those who did not shop online: $726 compared to $382 during the holidays.

The bigger spend by online shoppers is likely related to the availability of more products online, and the many online promotions that require consumers spend a minimum (often $50 or more) to qualify for free shipping.

Digital tools that remind shoppers of other products they have looked at, or suggest related products, may also be driving sales, Atkinson believes.

When it came to sourcing products from a particular store or brand during this unusually cold and snowy holiday season, respondents ranked malls as the top destination, followed by online shopping. City centres and downtowns ranked third.

“This is a snapshot. Obviously, Christmas is a better time to be in a mall or online than it is to be walking along a street,” said Atkinson.

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Published Thursday February 13, 2014
Francine Kopun

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