E-commerce in Canada - Statistics & Facts

The e-commerce market, where consumers and businesses can buy and sell products and services exclusively through electronic channels, has been developing constantly in the past decade. In fact, retail sales from worldwide electronic commerce are expected to grow from 1.92 trillion U.S. dollars in 2016 to 4.06 trillion in 2020. As of 2015, the largest B2C e-commerce markets in the world were Asia Pacific and North America. Although in North America the United States is by far the largest regional market for e-commerce, Canada is slowly but surely catching up. Here, retail e-commerce sales are expected to reach almost 29 billion Canadian dollars by 2021, up from 18.3 billion in 2016.

In 2017, e-commerce sales are expected to account for 7.2 percent of total retail sales in Canada, a figure that is slightly higher around the holiday season. What is more, the most popular day for making online purchases during the season is Cyber Monday, followed by Boxing Day. One of the many reasons for the relatively low rate of embracing online shopping is considered to be the sheer cost of serving a market geographically larger than the United States, but with a much smaller population. However, according to data from 2015, Canada does show a very promising digital buyer penetration rate, with 84 percent of Canadians having purchased something online in the preceding year. Furthermore, over 20 percent of Canadians have shopped online about once per month in 2015, while some claim to have done so at least once per week during that same year. Unsurprisingly, digital buyer penetration is higher among the younger generations, with 95 percent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 years having made a purchase online in 2015.

When it comes to online consumer behavior, Canadians seem to have similar preferences as their southern neighbors. While in the United States, the most popular categories to shop online for are books and electronics, in that order of popularity, Canadians admit to buying clothing and books from internet retailers. The main reasons consumers prefer online to in-store shopping in Canada are lower prices and better deals, as well as the possibility to shop 24/7 from the convenience of their own home.

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