A Purolator driver wears a mask as he makes deliveries in Toronto on March 24, 2020. With online sales set to hit record highs this year, Statistics Canada says that wholesalers, rather than retailers, have benefited most from the trend toward online shopping. Statistics Canada says $85 billion of Canada’s $305 billion in online sales last year went to wholesalers, while transportation and warehousing companies got $60 billion, manufacturing was worth $38 billion, and retailers grossed $22 billion.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

A Purolator driver wears a mask as he makes deliveries in Toronto on March 24, 2020. With online sales set to hit record highs this year, Statistics Canada says that wholesalers, rather than retailers, have benefited most from the trend toward online shopping. Statistics Canada says $85 billion of Canada’s $305 billion in online sales last year went to wholesalers, while transportation and warehousing companies got $60 billion, manufacturing was worth $38 billion, and retailers grossed $22 billion.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Online shopping set to hit record this year in Canada

Study suggests that majority of shoppers looking online for holiday gifts

Online sales are set to hit a record this year in Canada, Statistics Canada said on Monday, amid limits on in-person shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new data is in line with Statistics Canada’s estimates from the spring, when retail e-commerce sales more than doubled from February to May.

Online shopping fell this summer from its high of $4 billion in May as more stores opened to in-person shopping.

Nonetheless, Statistics Canada says that 2020 is on pace to beat 2019’s total e-commerce sales of $305 billion, a figure that has more than doubled since 2013 and includes business-to-business sales as well as retail purchases.

A separate online survey of 600 adults from Google Canada in late October also suggested that 70 per cent of respondents were looking online, not in-store, for holiday gifts. (The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.)

The data comes as Canada’s biggest city, Toronto, and neighbouring Peel Region entered a lockdown ahead of the key holiday shopping season, limiting non-essential retailers to curbside pickup an online sales. Only essential businesses, such as grocers and pharmacies, are open to in-person shopping for the next 28 days, and store capacity is limited to 50 per cent. Other municipalities across Canada are also tightening restrictions amid rising COVID-19 case counts.

Meanwhile, several Canadian retailers, including Le Chateau, Mountain Equipment Co-operative, GNC Holdings, and Aldo, have filed for creditor protection this year.

Up until last year, online sales represented about eight per cent of revenue for Canadian businesses with five or more employees, Statistics Canada said in the report. As of 2019, 39 per cent of large businesses had online sales in Canada, compared with 23 per cent of small businesses, the report said.

Statistics Canada also noted that in the past, wholesalers and shippers, rather than retailers, have been the top beneficiaries of the trend toward online shopping.

Wholesalers contributed $85 billion toward total online sales last year, while transportation and warehousing represented $60 billion, manufacturing was worth $38 billion, and retailers grossed $22 billion.

While one in four Canadian businesses had some online sales in 2019, Statistics Canada said goods sold in retail stores were often bought in bulk online from higher in the supply chain, meaning that the majority of online sales across the country were business-to-business.

READ MORE: Canada Post urges holiday shoppers to buy gifts early amid surge in online shopping

Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusShopping and Classifieds

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

Black Press file photo
Leduc RCMP investigate shooting

Male victim transported to hospital with serious injuries.

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Heath, Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Black Press file photo
 Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Heath, Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Black Press file photo
New COVID-19 death reported in the City of Wetaskiwin

COVID-19 updates for the City and County of Wetaskiwin.

Pictured left to right: Tyrone McDonald, Fire Chief Jamie Wilkinson, General Manager of Community & Protective Services Paul Edginton, Uwe Kurth (ASFA), City Manager Sue Howard, Deputy Fire Chief Alex Plant, Mayor Tyler Gandam. Photo/ City of Wetaskiwin.
City of Wetaskiwin Fire Services sends gear to firefighters in Paraguay

Former City of Wetaskiwin Fire Services member spearheading this initiative.

Kyla Gibson with her boyfriend Gavin Hardy. (Photo used with permission)
Sylvan Lake couple lose ‘fur babies’ to house fire

‘They were our world and nothing will ever replace them,’ Kyla Gibson said of her three pets

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. Public opposition to the Alberta government’s plans to expand coal mining in the Rocky Mountains appears to be growing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File
Alberta cancels coal leases, pauses future sales, as opposition increases

New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt welcomed the suspension

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File)
First Nations seek to intervene in court challenge of coal policy removal

Bearspaw, Ermineskin and Whitefish First Nations are among those looking to intervene

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

Most Read