COVID-19 Pandemic Drives Canadian Ecommerce And Leads To Big Changes In How Canadians Shop

Data from Statistics Canada and a report from Dalhousie University show how the pandemic has affected the shopping industry in Canada, boosting online shopping and changing how Canadians shop.

According to Statistics Canada’s data, published in their 2020 Canadian Internet Use Survey, 82% of Canadians shopped online in 2020, a 9% increase from 2018’s percentage of 73%. During that same time period, online spending went up by a sizable 47%, going up from $57.4bn to $84.4bn.

 The report notes that this shows the notable change in how Canadians use the internet each day, in spite of the fact that the share of them that use the internet only went up slightly; from 91% in 2018, up to 92% in 2020.

The change in how Canadians use the internet, the report states, is most apparent in shopping and working.

Canadians’ most purchased physical goods online in 2020 included clothing, groceries, books and electronics, just like in 2018. 76% of Canadians purchased physical goods online in 2020, up from 2018’s 63% share. What’s notable is that the average spending for Canadians went up from $1,165 in 2018 to $2,336 in 2020; a growth of 100%.

Groceries saw a notable boost, with 21% of respondents stating they shopped for groceries more during the pandemic, while 45% shopped more for other goods.

The report noted that 13% of Canadians first got their groceries online as a result of being stuck at home during the pandemic, with 9% doing so for other physical goods.

Certain kinds of services also saw more patronage, though some saw less. Travel arrangements, tickets for sporting, entertainment, and cultural events saw a drop, which is understandable given that they were limited heavily during the pandemic.

The share of Canadians who purchased digital goods, like downloading music or videos, went up from 52% in 2018 to 68% in 2020. The average value spent by Canadians shopping online went up from $346 in 2018 to $568 in 2020.

For work, the survey notes that working remote from home was the only avenue that a lot of Canadians had amidst the pandemic, resulting in around 43% of Canadians in the 18-65 age range stating that they used the internet to work from home more often. 15% experienced working from home for the first time.

Dalhousie University states that the pandemic have irreversibly changed how Canadians shop, with Agri-Food Analytics Lab Director Sylvain Charlebois saying that more and more people will stick to buying food online.

The Lab conducted a survey with Caddle’s cooperation, surveying 10,024 Canadians with regards to grocery shopping in May 2021, with the goal of understanding how the pandemic affected how Canadians get their groceries.

Charlebois states that loyalty programmes will be important moving forward; with their data noting that 73.1% of Canadians are likely to be swayed by such programmes when shopping.

VenessaCavicchi Downing, a respondent and co-owner of Cavicchi’s Meats in Upper Tantallon, NS, states that the pandemic forced stores like theirs to work on their online presence, which has been their primary avenue as a result of the lockdown.

She notes that people find online shopping convenient and safe, giving them more time to spend with family and handle other important matters as a result of not having to travel to shop, so she expects that people will stick to online shopping as a regular thing.

Charlebois echoed this sentiment, stating that Halifax sees a lot of delivery trucks and cars on the road, showing that people enjoy shopping on Amazon marketplace and the like from the safety of their homes in their pajamas.