2019 Deloitte Retail Holiday Study

Press releases

While online shopping continues to gain momentum this holiday season, Amazon expected to be the first stop

Canadians plan to spend an average of $1,706 this holiday season

Key findings

  1. Amazon is the top destination for holiday shopping; 60% of consumers plan to research holiday purchases on its website 
  2. Social media influencers aren’t especially influential; just 14% of consumers trust influencers and 6% trust celebrity endorsements; compare that with friends 79% and family 72% 
  3. Consumers plan on making six trips to stores and seven “visits” to online retailers this holiday season; 78% will be visiting the same stores as last year 
  4. Boxing Day/Week might be losing its allure; only one in three shoppers plan to shop these sales 
  5. Don’t expect cannabis under the tree; consumers plan to spend only 2% of their holiday entertaining budgets on cannabis

Toronto, October 29, 2019
– According to Deloitte’s 2019 Holiday Retail Outlook, Amazon tops the list of likely online shopping destinations this holiday season. As the battle between bricks-and-mortar and online retailers continues, Canadians are split, but most agree that Amazon is a good place to start. While 52 per cent of survey respondents prefer to shop in a physical store, 60 per cent say they will begin their gift research on Amazon this holiday season, and 58 per cent will shop on its website.

Sixty-eight per cent of Canadians believe the economy will perform the same or better in 2020, setting relatively optimistic expectations for holiday retail sales to increase this season. Seventy-eight per cent of respondents also expect their personal financial situation to stay the same or improve over the next year, and this confidence is translating into holiday spending plans. The majority of Canadian consumers (79 per cent) plan to spend the same or more this holiday season—an average of $1,706 on gifts, travel, food, alcohol, and cannabis. Nearly half (49 per cent) of respondents expect to start their holiday shopping before Black Friday, more than double the number getting an early start five years ago (23 per cent), and 17 per cent see Black Friday and Cyber Monday as the kickoff to their holiday shopping.

"There’s a strong connection between Canadians’ economic optimism, personal financial outlook, and holiday spending intentions," said Marty Weintraub, partner and national Retail practice leader at Deloitte Canada. "Despite the economic uncertainty, Canada shows remarkable stability—consumer spending is growing at a moderate pace, unemployment rates are at a 40-year low, and wage growth is outpacing inflation.[1] This could explain why Canadians are feeling optimistic about this year’s holiday season, which makes for an enticing period for Canadian retailers."

Amazon: First stop, but not the last
While 22 per cent of Canadians say they expect to spend most of their holiday budget at Amazon, there is competition. Despite the growing popularity of the online retail giant, 51 per cent of respondents say they will purchase gifts from mass retailers’ omnichannel platforms, which include physical stores and websites. Bricks-and-mortar retailers have an edge when it comes to helping Canadians get gift ideas. Sixty-nine per cent of Canadians will be scoping out potential gifts in-store—higher than either Amazon (60 per cent) or Google (54 per cent). Offering the ability to see, touch, and test products, avoid shipping costs, and stumble across unexpected gifts, physical stores still provide something the comfort of online shopping can’t yet replace. Of those shoppers planning to visit physical stores, 47 per cent expect to buy items at their local liquor retailer.

"While online shopping continues to grow in popularity, it’s clear that Canadians aren’t ready to abandon bricks-and-mortar stores any time soon," said Weintraub. "To thrive in an intensely competitive arena, retailers need to capitalize on their omnichannel investments to deliver an optimal customer experience that consistently exceeds shoppers’ expectations. Retailers need to focus on customers as individuals, by understanding their needs and preferences and enhancing capabilities to be able to guide and support them along the path to purchase—whether the actual purchase is completed in-store or online."

Data breaches: Cause of concern for Canadian consumers
As Canadians gear up to spend, they are also looking to get something back, especially when their data is involved. While a rising number of Canadian consumers would rather do their holiday shopping online, data security should be top of mind for retailers. With 41 per cent of respondents stating they’ve been affected by a data breach that’s exposed their identity, health or personal data, or credit card information, consumers are unlikely to forgive and forget. One in four (23 per cent) claim that if a retailer they typically shop at suffered a data breach, they would never shop there again.

While Canadian consumers are still willing to provide personal and financial information to retailers, some are asking for something in return. Sixty-three per cent will be looking for special promotions, discounts, or other saving offers in exchange for their data. As retailers prepare for a holiday season primed for sales, data security is the latest trend affecting where and how Canadians shop.

Don’t expect cannabis under the tree this holiday season
With the legalization of recreational cannabis in October 2018 and edibles on the way to being legalized later this year, it’s still too early for Canadians to put it on their wish lists. Only 10 per cent of consumers intend to purchase cannabis this holiday season, and they plan to spend only two per cent of their holiday entertainment budget on cannabis.

Learn more about the 2019 holiday spending forecast and retail trends here.

About the survey
The poll was conducted between September 6 and September 12, 2019. A sample of 1,000 Canadians 18 years of age and older was interviewed by Deloitte using an online methodology. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure the sample’s composition reflects census data for the adult population.

About Deloitte

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[1] Deloitte, Disrupting the bear podcast, 2019.

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