In-Depth Study Explores Canadian Holiday Shopping Habits

Retail industry news delivered directly to you. Subscribe to Retail-Insider.

Canadians are starting their holiday shopping much earlier these days and retailers need to be ready for the onslaught both in their stores and online.

“Now is the time to make sure that everything’s perfect at retail,” said Jeff Doucette, General Manager of Field Agent Canada, a company that uses its mobile platform to do shopper research for the retail industry.

“When you look at how people are shopping, yes there is an online influence and online is going to be important, but there’s still a big bricks and mortar component to what we will see this Christmas. Holiday shoppers are still going to go to stores to buy stuff . . . Christmas is still about being in the stores, although ecommerce is definitely growing. Overall it seems Canadians are in a robust mood. When you look at the overall dollars spent year-over-year there’s lots of people who are going to be spending more. There’s more people spending more than there are people spending less.”

Those are some of the key findings of a new report by Field Agent: A Very Canadian, Omnichannel Christmas 2018 Holiday Insights:

The report said November is still, for many in Canada, the kickoff to holiday shopping. In the survey, 44 per cent said they will most likely begin their 2018 gift shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or even earlier in November. Only four per cent said they will wait until mid-December or later to start. Interestingly enough, only 18 per cent said they expect to finish their shopping prior to December.

“Online shopping is on the advance — we’ve seen that the last several years. But the majority of holiday spending still transpires inside stores,” said the report, explaining that 98 per cent of shoppers expect to visit more than one store this year.

In fact, 29 per cent intend to visit six to 10 physical stores and seven per cent 11 stores.

“People like being in the mall at Christmas time. People love being there. There’s no parking and the mall is crowded because people love being there,” said Doucette.

“What likely is happening too is there’s still that showrooming effect. You might see people who go to Hudson’s Bay to shop for kitchen wares. They might not actually buy it at Hudson’s Bay. They might go and buy it on Amazon and have it delivered to their house. But that’s part of the process. It sounds crazy but you can’t visit Santa Claus online. You can’t get your kids’ picture taken with Santa Claus online. You still have to go to the mall. There’s some things there that online will never be able to replicate because that physical experience is what it is – the music, the lights, all that stuff.”

Doucette said the big rush for holiday shopping is coming up as Canada has sort of Americanized our shopping routine around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“You’re going to have a huge wave of people coming into the stores especially after Remembrance Day. I think Canadians still to a certain extent respect that Remembrance Day line in the sand. And once it’s the 12th it’s the beginning of the Holiday season at retail in general,” he said.

Where are people likely to be found spending most of their holiday dollars? Amazon took top spot in the report as the retailer where 31% of Canadians will spend the biggest part of their budgets, followed by Walmart (23 per cent), Costco (10 per cent), Winners/HomeSense (seven per cent), and Toys R Us (four per cent).

“What we’ve seen in general is not polarization of shoppers but polarization of shopping missions. So people are really keen to go to Walmart or go to Costco to save a bunch of money or shop on Amazon to save a bunch of money. But then they’re also going to the Coach boutique to buy a $400 purse,” said Doucette. “It’s really a mix of consumers shopping in different ways depending on what they’re looking for.”

The good news for retailers this year is that people are looking to spend more money, according to the report. Holiday shoppers are feeling spend-happy entering the 2018 holiday-shopping season with 39 per cent expecting to spend more than last year in groceries for meals, 31 per cent spending more for holiday decorations, 31 per cent spending more on electronics, 40 per cent more on toys and 42 per cent more on gifts in general.

The survey also found that 51 per cent said they’re completely likely to buy gifts online / in-app this holiday season.

“Online shopping is no longer the new kid on the block; it’s more entrenched behaviour now. Indeed, only a measly eight per cent said they’re not very or not at all likely to buy gifts online in 2018,” said the Field Agent report.

In Field Agent’s survey, Amazon was the undisputed king of online holiday-shopping, with about seven-in-10 saying they’ll spend most of their digital dollars with the ecommerce giant.

And how likely are shoppers to use store pickup to retrieve gifts from digital shopping – 12 per cent completely likely, 17 per cent very likely and 31 per cent moderately likely.

Also, 43 per cent of Canadians surveyed reported being either completely or very likely to use a mobile app to plan for, shop for, and/or buy gifts this year. Only 30 per cent said they’re not very or not at all likely. And Amazon and Walmart lead the way there.

The bottom line? Expect to see lots of people at the malls and lots of brown boxes on doorsteps across the country over the next few weeks.

Want to learn more? Download the FREE 28 PAGE REPORT HERE

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

More From The Author

Iconic Flo’s Diner in Toronto’s Yorkville Forced to Close After 33...

Retail Insider interviewed Flo’s co-owner who discusses the “heart wrenching” situation where he is being forced to close his business that began on Bellair Street in 1991.

Anatomy of a Leader: Teresa Spinelli, Owner of Alberta-Based Italian Centre...

Spinelli discusses her leadership of the popular retailer which has expanded over the years, describing how she struggled to run the company at first and grew to love it.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

No posts to display

Follow us


all-time Popular