Vast Majority of Canadians to Shop at Canadian Retailers Leading into Holidays: Study

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Consumers seem overwhelmingly in support of helping out Canadian retailers this holiday shopping season as the retail industry continues to struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shopping local is of growing importance for Canadians indicates the Retail Council of Canada‘s (RCC) annual Holiday Shopping Survey of over 2,500 Canadians from coast to coast conducted in October 2020

90% of Canadians Believe Buying Local is Key this Holiday Season

It found that 90 per cent of Canadians say buying from a retailer in Canada is key and 83 per cent also agree that buying items made in Canada is important.

Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO Retail Council of Canada
Diane J. Brisebois

“More than ever, Canadians understand the critical role retail plays in helping keep our communities strong,” said Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO Retail Council of Canada. “Retailers are doing everything they can to ensure Canadians have the products they want and are offering great promotions so consumers can confidently and safely begin their holiday shopping earlier this year. Canadians, in turn, are increasingly appreciating the role they can play in helping to support retailers and businesses in Canada during this pandemic.

“The most important highlights of the survey are the responses to the importance of buying from a retailer in Canada this holiday season and the acknowledgement that streetfront and main street small retailers need support now more than ever. That acknowledgement and that understanding is what’s stood out for us in the survey.

“That was encouraging in the sense that the message that we’ve been conveying throughout the pandemic is the importance of supporting our merchants across the country and it appears to be very much a front of mind for consumers in Canada. That’s very encouraging in light of the challenges that everyone is facing.”

Here are some of the key findings from the survey:

  • Holiday spending intentions are lower but 50 per cent still plan to spend about the same as last year: Canadians are planning to spend $693 in 2020 (versus $792 in 2019), with 57 per cent saying this is because there will be fewer get-togethers and 55 per cent saying it is because they have less money to spend;
  • Canadians plan to spend similar percentages of their budgets on Black Friday (37 per cent), Cyber Monday (25 per cent) and Boxing Day (27 per cent) as they did last year;
  • 74 per cent of their budget will be spent on others, while 26 per cent will be spent on themselves. 41 per cent of those who will spend more on themselves this year will do so because they want to treat themselves;
  • The product categories Canadians will be spending their money on is shifting: The number one category remains food, alcohol, candy or sweets (19 per cent of overall spend). The second and third categories are, like last year, clothing and toys. However, the budget portion people are spending in these categories is shifting to other categories. More money this year will be spent on personal electronics, health and personal care, books and music, sports equipment, and furniture;
  • 28 per cent of Canadians also say the ability to buy online and pick-up in-store or curbside is more important this year than in the past;
  • 58 per cent of consumers will shop in store this year (a 14 per cent decline versus 2019) and 42 per cent will shop online (an increase of 14 per cent versus 2019). Mobile will see a huge increase in usage for both researching and ordering across all product categories;
  • A quarter of Canadians have already begun their 2020 holiday shopping. In terms of timing versus last year, 21 per cent this year say they will shop earlier in 2020 – the main reason is to avoid shipping delays, eight per cent will shop later, and 71 per cent won’t change when they begin shopping this year.

More Canadians Self-Buying than Ever Before

“Another finding that we thought interesting was the increase in the amount of Canadians who are saying that they will be self gifting this year. While we expected that consumers would say in the survey that they plan to spend a bit less than last year, we weren’t expecting to see that big a jump in regards to spending on themselves,” said Brisebois.

“We do expect to see consumers more conscious of budgets this year than they did in past years because of the pandemic and some of the security that exists within the community in regards to their financial situation.”

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