The online trend is predicted to hit an all-time high of $6.54 trillion by 2023. Last year alone, 28.1 million Canadians shopped online, spending $1.85 billion. As you would have suspected, Amazon is the number one online shopping site and accounts for 25-30 percent of the Canadian market share and 49 percent of the U.S. market share.
One of the most significant factors contributing to this billion-dollar industry is the convenience of shopping from home. According to the Research Departments survey conducted in 2018 regarding shopping behaviours, the most common responses they received was that people shop online to save time and money. In particular, Canadians preferred online instead of in-person retail stores due to better product selection through browsing. The survey revealed an interesting trend about Canadian shoppers. When it comes to purchasing high-end digital products, Canadians are primarily buying within the country. As for the lower-end items such as toys and clothing, buyers turned to the U.S. based market.
It’s an uphill battle, and one we often hear from those who own and operate local mom and pop stores. They can't compete with the low pricing. There is no easy answer or solution to the growing concern that the online market is pushing out the brick and mortar stores. It comes down to the individual shopper and their preference. Online shopping may offer great deals and coupons, but one of the most significant downsides is the inability to see and touch the product before buying. A prime example of clothing is close to the top for items purchased online. However, all too often, those who bought online turn around and try to sell it on Facebook because it does not fit correctly or was not what they thought it was. Shopping in person allows you to feel the material and try it on before making that final purchase. While it may cost more, it guarantees you are getting exactly what you wanted with a possible higher quality of workmanship, and the transaction takes place immediately. On the other side of the scale, online shopping offers a vast variety of unique items typically not found in smaller retail stores. These items could range in household knick-knacks, books and toys. For someone looking for something special, it may be more advantageous to go online.
Many municipalities are jumping on board with the “shop local” slogan to save small businesses and its economy. Everyone wants to help out in their community, but when it comes to making purchases, whether retail or online, it solely rests with what the pocketbook can endure. But before jumping on the computer to make your next purchase, weigh the pros and cons to truly determine if you are saving money and time instead of shopping locally.
Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press