Fundamental shifts in holiday shopping habits of Canadians accelerate

2020 holiday retail outlook

As a continuation from the 2020 holiday retail outlook, launched on Oct 20, Deloitte recently went to market with a survey to understand how Canadian consumers’ overall behaviour and spending during the Black Friday shopping period has changed since 2019.

Black Friday insights explores the shift to online shopping, early Black Friday sales, and shopping locally. The study also includes how the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and government mandated lockdowns have changed shopping and spending habits of consumers.

Read Black Friday insights for more information.


Our annual holiday retail spending outlook explores the shopping behaviours, attitudes, and preferences of Canadian consumers that retailers need to know about during the upcoming holiday season.

A lot has changed since the 2019 outlook. COVID-19 has changed how Canadians live, work, and shop, and it has turbocharged the fundamental shifts in consumer behaviour that were already underway. We surveyed more than 1,000 Canadian consumers across age groups, financial situations, and geographic regions to discover what their shopping plans are for this very different holiday season.

Five key insights:

  • Holiday spending is expected to fall 18 percent: One in three Canadians expect to reduce their spending on the holidays this year, down to an average of $1,405. Travel, dining out, and alcohol for entertaining will take the brunt of spending cuts. 
  • Consumer confidence is lower, but Canadians are feeling more charitable: More than half (56 percent) expect Canada’s economy to weaken in 2021 and 31 percent expect to be worse off. But this gloomy outlook is inspiring consumers to help their fellow Canadians—by increasing their charitable donations by an average of 86 percent.
  • COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to online shopping: Forty-seven percent of Canadian consumers say they’ve been shopping online more often since the novel coronavirus crisis began. 
  • Canadians start their shopping journey at Amazon: Two out of three shoppers (66 percent) say they’ll use Amazon to find and purchase gifts and other items this holiday season, up from 60 percent last year. Just 53 percent of consumers say they’ll likely head to stores to find gifts, down significantly from 69 percent last year. 
  • Canadians are buying from third-party marketplace sellers, and report high satisfaction: Overall, 78 percent of consumers—and 86 percent of those aged 18 to 34—made an online purchase from a marketplace seller. 

There are silver linings: Canadians will still be gathering with at least some family and friends to celebrate the season. And while they may not be planning to spend quite as much as in the heady, pre-pandemic days of 2019, they’re still shopping. They still want outstanding products, services, and customer experiences—online and in-store. Retailers that can deliver on those expectations and keep customers safe and healthy will be positioned to do well in this extraordinary moment in history.

Read Fundamental shifts in holiday shopping habits of Canadians accelerate for more information.

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