1 in 3 Canadians relying strictly on online shopping for holiday gifts: poll

TORONTO – A growing number of Canadians plan to do all of their holiday shopping online this year to avoid stepping foot in maddening malls, suggests a new survey commissioned by Google.

About one in three of the Canadians polled online by Ipsos Reid said they would rely on e-commerce to purchase all their gifts, which was up 50 per cent compared to the results of a similar survey conducted last year.

Still, a majority of the Canadians said that while they would be doing some gift-buying research online, they would ultimately brave the crowds.

“Consumers, rather than wandering up and down on the high street or through malls, are much more purposeful now when they’re making those purchase decisions. They’re doing their research online prior to going into the malls and they know what they want,” said Rafe Petkovic of Google Canada.

Another recent poll conducted for MasterCard Canada yielded somewhat similar results, with almost one in three Canadians saying they planned to do half or more of their holiday shopping online.

Sarah Quinlan, head of market insights for MasterCard Advisors, said she’s surprised that some major retailers still aren’t open for business on the web in Canada, especially since e-commerce growth has been strong in 2014.

MasterCard estimates e-commerce now represents about 6.7 per cent of total retail sales in Canada and is up 22.6 per cent compared to this time last year.

“The number is clearly trending up, there’s no doubt about it, it’s increasing, that’s why it’s sort of still surprising that there are some major retailers that haven’t participated in the game yet,” Quinlan said.

Canadian Tire and Shoppers Drug Mart are lagging their leading U.S. counterparts in terms of the breadth of their e-commerce offerings, and struggling Target has not indicated if and when it will open a web store for Canadians.

“It’s not about everybody shopping on e-commerce versus bricks and mortar, that’s not what we’re seeing. What we’re seeing is (online shopping) is giving the consumer flexibility.”

According to Google’s poll, this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days should be bigger than ever in Canada.

About 44 per cent of the poll respondents said they planned to shop on one or both of those days. Half as many poll respondents were interested in Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year.

Google expects almost half of the clothing and electronic holiday gifts purchased by Canadians this year will be bought on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Google’s online poll was conducted with 1,054 holiday shoppers between Sept. 10 and 17.

The MasterCard online poll was conducted by Angus Reid Forum with 1,005 Canadians on Nov. 14 and 15.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version wrongly said Canadian Tire and Shoppers Drug Mart are “not offering online sales”.