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

The Anti-Racist Coalition Vancouver started a petition calling on B.C.’s education officials to make Black Shirt Day official. The inaugural event in solidarity with Black and racialized Canadians takes place on Friday, Jan. 15. (Screenshot/Change.org)
Surrey students, staff to take part in first-ever Black Shirt Day

Special day in ‘recognition of the struggle for civil rights fought by Black and racialized Canadians’

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey, Langley twin brothers who own companies together battle in court

Presiding judge described Surrey resident Kerry Hawley and Langley resident Kelly Petersen as ‘self-made successes’

16500-block of 24 Avenue. (Google image)
Council pushes forward applications for 400-plus dwellings in South Surrey

Loss of trees, pressure on schools cited by public, council members as areas of concern

Members of the community participate in the 7th annual Coldest Night of the Year event Feb. 22, 2020. This year’s event will have a virtual aspect to it because of COVID, says organizer Courtenay van den Boogaard. (Photo Submitted: Amanda Grewall)
Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser to support Cloverdale Community Kitchen

Annual events raises funds to help homeless community

Brandon Isaak with two of the "mini-legends" he's made of clay. "But I do not just do musicians or legends," says the Surrey-area musician. "I did a series of hobos and the guy in my one hand is Homesick Joe. In the other hand a commissioned piece of Bob Marley." (submitted photo: Cindy Mae)
Surrey musician’s clay ‘Mini-Legends’ make the most of pandemic’s quiet days and nights

‘It’s actually turned out to be quite a booming little business,’ says Brandon ‘Yukon Slim’ Isaak

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. find its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Todd Stone says he’s not running for B.C. Liberal leadership

Kamloops MLA was widely viewed as a front-runner

Wireless voice and data services are out for those on Telus as of Thursday (Jan. 14) afternoon across Western Canada, Telus Support said in a recent Tweet. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Telus services restored across Western Canada

Telus said they are monitoring the situation to ensure connections remain stable

Screenshot from video.
2 students arrested in assault of transgender girl at Lower Mainland school

Mother says daughter was targeted because of how she identifies

Constable Ken Jaques broke a window and crawled into a home to rescue an elderly man who had be laying on the floor for days. Jaques was the officer who provided oversight for the 2020 Remembrance Day services and is shown here in a picture with his son. Photo Andrea DeMeer
Senior who fell and spent days lying on floor of home saved by Princeton cop

He broke the glass and crawled into the house, while calling for assistance from BC Ambulance

Most Read