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Comfort Levels with Digital Buying and Physical Retail Have Changed in Canada

Confined to their homes, consumers now have more than the impetus of convenience to shop online. It’s become necessity for many people—a condition that will likely boost ecommerce habits for years to come.

Nearly four in five adults (79%) in Canada spent 20% or less of their total shopping budget online prior to COVID-19, according to a Forum Research poll in April 2020. But more than a third (38%) said they planned to spend greater than 20% of their budget online after COVID-19.

The number of consumers conducting more than 40% of their shopping online in April more than doubled to 19%, compared with just 8% prior to the pandemic.

These surges in volume are putting pressure on the country’s ecommerce distribution channels, which has resulted in delays and longer-than-usual order times, similar to what Amazon has experienced worldwide. Canada Post reported that on Monday, April 20, it delivered more than 1.8 million parcels, a level matching the biggest delivery days during the Christmas season.

“After a gradual reopening of the retail economy, it’s clear that physical retail will suffer from the lingering effects of social distancing on consumer psyches,” said Paul Briggs, eMarketer senior analyst at Insider Intelligence and author of our new report “Canada Ecommerce 2020.”

According to a May poll conducted by Ipsos and Global News, just 63% of adults in Canada said they would shop in a mall in 2020, and just 60% said they would sit down in a restaurant. Gatherings for cultural pursuits will be even more impacted, with just 36% of respondents indicating that they would go to a movie theater and 22% saying they would attend a live concert, festival or play.

Going to live sports events appears to be the most anxiety-inducing activity, with just 18% of respondents planning to do so.

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