Online Holiday Shopping

With the economy fluctuating and increasingly uncertain, so are holiday shoppers. According to an online survey conducted on behalf of Deloitte, faith in the Canadian economy is declining. While 29% expect it to improve in the coming year, 33% expect it to decline further. For this reason, Canadians are planning to cut their Christmas budget in half and focus on new ways to save money instead.

According to the same poll, this year’s average Christmas shopper plans to spend $477 on gifts. Of those who intend to shop, 45% plan to shop online. Rather than spend this season, the survey found that Canadians’ highest priority this year is to pay off debt.

Online shopping in Canada compared to other nations

It’s funny; on a global scale, Canadians spend more time online than any other nation. While other countries shop predominantly online (Germany, South Korea and the UK), we buy less online than any other nation. A recent poll, which questioned 10,000 consumers from 10 different countries, found that approximately 82% of Canadians have bought goods online, compared to the global average of 93%.

Why aren’t we shopping online?

Some of the factors contributing to lower online sales in Canada include:

  1. Shipping costs – since our country is vast and sparsely populated in areas, shipping costs tend to be higher than those in other nations.
  2. Competition – Competition between traditional and online retailers have helped create more desirable prices in store – helping consumers avoid the additional shipping costs.
  3. Taxes and tariffs – Companies often stick the consumer with the extra taxes and tariffs for goods coming over the border.
  4. Restrictions – Some companies have restrictive distribution agreements. For instance, you cannot order Burton products online from the U.S.

For the above reasons, Canadians tend to window-shop online only to compare prices, and then head to the store to purchase goods in person.

Online shopping on the rise in Canada

Interestingly, according to a poll conducted by PRWeb, online holiday traffic is outpacing 2010 figures. September/October traffic is up 45% from last year and retailers are trying to catch up. As consumers gravitate toward online shopping, retailers will start selling more online. In the past 30 days alone, online retailers have increased by 10%. Goods that have traditionally held the online market include music, books and DVDs, but consumers are now purchasing everything from pet supplies to baby products from online retailers. In the last two months alone, the sports category has doubled its web-based sales. While online shopping isn’t nearly as popular as it is in the U.S., it’s becoming more and more popular in Canada.

Tips for online shopping

Shopping online is different than shopping in person – and in some ways, much easier. Here are a few tips to help save you some money this holiday season.

  • Always look for an online coupon or promo code. Simply Google search the product you’re looking for with the words ‘coupon’ or ‘promo code’.
  • Compare prices and shipping costs on different sites. Although prices might seem lower on one site, they might make up for it in shipping costs. Know what the final cost is before purchasing.
  • Plan ahead. Most retailers offer discounts or free shipping for larger orders. If you can get several presents from one site you could end up saving a bundle in shipping costs.
  • Join deal sites like Groupon, WagJag and Ethical Deal. They offer great daily specials at discounted rates. They can save you a ton in holiday spending.
  • Rack up the points.  If you plan on doing a lot of your purchases online this season, make sure you’re using a credit cards that offers some kind of reward, like the MBNA SmartCash Mastercard.

Making sure it gets there on time

This year, FedEx expects to deliver more than 260 million packages globally. This number is up 12% from last year. Last year, Canada Post delivered over one million cards and packages during the holiday season alone. If you want to avoid disappointment, get those cards and packages in the mail as early as possible. Here are the deadlines you’ll want to watch for:

  • Priority Next A.M. will be accepted as late as December 22
  • Regular parcels (to be delivered within Canada) need to be sent by December 12
  • Out-of-province greeting cards need to mailed by December 15; within the province by December 16
  • Local greetings should be in the mail no later than December 19

Although there was no information available for incoming deliveries, you might want to add an extra week onto the times listed here, depending on where it’s coming from. Most sites will let you know what the before-Christmas shipping deadline is, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. For a more comprehensive list of global delivery deadlines, visit canadapost.ca.

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