Canadian Retail Industry Statistics: How are Canadians Shopping?

Canadian retail industry statistics are constantly evolving, so it can behoove any retail manufacturer to stay on top of the trends.

For instance, we constantly hear how eCommerce is closing down brick-and-mortar locations, but the retail industry stats show that’s just not the case for most of Canada.

We’ve compiled some other industry statistics that show exactly how Canadian consumers are making their purchasing decisions in 2018 and 2019.

According to Nielsen, Canadian consumers make on average 156 shopping trips per year and spend $8,645 per year across all fast-moving consumer goods channels, which include grocery, drug, mass merchandisers, and warehouse club stores.

That differs by province. Ontarians make fewer trips (152 per year) and spend 4% less than the average Canadian, with only $8,295 in annual FMCG purchases. Comparatively, Albertans spend the most with $9,448 in annual purchases. But while consumers in Alberta are the biggest spenders, they are making fewer trips than the average consumer, with only 144 shopping trips annually.

Albertans spend $66 per shopping trip, while Eastern Canadians (Quebec and the Maritimes) spend only $52 (but that has gone up in the past year).

According to Santander TradePortal, Canadians are also quite choosy about the products they pick up. Consumers consider the quality, origin, composition, and price when considering a purchase. But, Santander notes that Canadian consumers are still susceptible to advertising, particularly when a product is trendy.

Canadians also look for a high level of customer service, both during the sale and after.

Interestingly, while ecommerce is not a huge economic driver for many retailers — in December 2017, ecommerce accounted for nearly $1.9 billion, or 3.4%, of total retail sales in Canada, according to Statistics Canada — it does play a big role in the buying process.

Santander reports that Canadian consumers rely increasingly on the Internet to make their purchases.

For the past decade, internet sales have increased at a higher rate than traditional retail sales. Younger consumers are driving growth in online shopping, using smartphones and other mobile devices to make purchases.

The seventh annual PwC Global Consumer Insights Survey found many trends, including Canadians preferences for positive face-to-face interactions (vs. personalized offers or in-store screens with product lines). Canadians are also trending more towards “maximizing” — searching or waiting for the absolute best produce — rather than “satisficing” — settling for “good enough.”

In the survey, 44% of consumers said they shop in brick-and-mortar stores daily or weekly (for items other than groceries). It also found that ecommerce is supplementing the shopping experience, with in-store “guide shops,” AR technology, and store-related apps.

Many consumers are either browsing in store and then buying the product online, or vice-versa: browsing online and buying the product in store.

Other habits that retail experts have noticed include:

  • Millennials ignore stores that don’t cater to the experience they want.
  • Not as many millennials have cars, meaning they’re less likely to drive to the mall.
  • Specialty stores, like brand standalones, and discount stores have risen in popularity.
  • Technology is pushing out, or limiting, certain products. For instance, most smartphones are equipped with cameras, so less people are buying traditional cameras.
  • High house prices have discouraged younger consumers from acquiring a property, resulting in a slower demand for a wide range of household items.
  • Social media is still huge for building brand influence — word of mouth and social network acceptance is crucial for creating trust.

The next year will likely bring even more changes to the Canadian retail landscape, particularly as economic changes come into effect. Canadian interest rates will likely keep rising, meaning there will be less credit available, however, wage growth and the employment rate is expected to stay on track.

Also, at the forefront are the U.S.-Canadian trade tariffs and how that will affect consumer shopping habits. Already, some Canadians have begun shunning American products and gravitating even more towards Canadian-made brands.

There could be a big opportunity here for Canadian-based manufacturers. Promoting the fact that your product is local could go a long way, especially doing so on social media and through online apps.

Storesupport Canada can help you navigate these Canadian retail industry statistics and more. Our experienced staff can help you track consumer data and create experiences customers will love, both in store and online.

Contact us today to learn more. Call 1 877 421 5081 or visit

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