A changed retail landscapeRight off the bat, one of the key changes caused by the virus was an overall decline in sales: over the past decade, Canadian retail trade figures had been growing incrementally with each consecutive year until 2020, when sales decreased by about one and a half percent, i.e., about nine billion Canadian dollars. From the department stores to bars and restaurants, all kinds of establishments had taken a major hit; for instance, monthly retail sales of Canadian clothing stores had taken a nosedive during spring, right after the coronavirus was first declared a global emergency. On the other hand, sales of grocery stores and similar outlets had in fact grown positively and remained higher than usual during these and later months.
Consumer behavior during a pandemicThe retail changes that occurred mostly came down to measures taken by governments and how people as a whole responded to the crisis. For example, one in five Canadian shoppers shared that they would not set foot in an indoor shopping mall before being vaccinated, which leads to a significant drop in potential customers, and thus sales, for such retail locations. Another noteworthy change on the side of the consumer is the spike in online shopping for most product categories since the first measures and lockdowns. Given that those who would normally shop in-store suddenly had to resort to the web, many e-commerce platforms and e-retailers have experienced considerable growth during the pandemic. For Canadian toys and hobby products, offline shopping had decreased by over 15 percent, while online shopping for this category had increased by over 12 percent. The sudden spike in e-commerce is forecast to stay as retail e-commerce revenue in Canada continues to grow over the coming years.
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