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A third of shoppers are doing more online shopping this year than last, but most are waiting till the last minute as only 11% of shoppers say they are 100% finished.

Vancouver, BC – ‘Twas the weeks before Christmas, and all through the province, the mouse was astirring, asurfing, and asearching for the perfect holiday gift. In fact, nearly eight-in-ten BCers say they will do some, and a further 45% will do most of their Christmas gift shopping online this season, and 33% say it is more than what they did last year. These are some of the findings of a holiday shopping survey conducted by Insights West just two weeks before that midnight visit from Saint Nick.

Shopping carts both online and in traditional brick and mortar stores are going to be frantically filling up in those final days, as last-minute shoppers abound in our province. In total, 86% of BC residents say they are making plans to buy gifts for others this season, with the other 14% saying they have no plans to do any shopping. Of those planning to buy gifts this holiday season, only 11% say they are 100% finished as of the 15th of December. On the other side of the scale, 10% say they haven’t bought a thing yet. As for the other 78% who have to finish up, most of those are at least half done – 23% said they have 50% to 74% of their shopping completed and 35% are 75% to 99% done.

If retailers are feeling a pinch this holiday season from fewer shop visitors, it’s likely time to resolve to build out or expand ecommerce capabilities in the New Year, as the momentum for this channel continues to grow. While only a small proportion (21%) of BC holiday shoppers won’t be shopping online at all, only a minor fraction of 3% will be clicking through for all their gift giving needs. But a staggering 45% will be doing 50% or more of their shopping online this holiday season. A full 33% of shoppers say they planned on doing more online shopping this season compared to last year (11% will do a lot more, 22% will do a little more). Interestingly, this trend is not universal, as 22% say they will shop online less than last year.

With a lot of discussion this year around the environment and single-use plastics, it’s interesting to note that consumers are divided as to whether the online shopping phenomenon is considered to be better or worse for the environment than in-store shopping. While a sizeable number (42%) feels that this method of shopping has no impact one way or another on the environment, a nearly equal number (29%) say online shopping is better for the environment overall compared to the number (30%) who believe it is worse. There is a stark difference among different segments of the population on these opinions, as far more males (35%) believe it’s better overall relative to females (23%), and 18-34 year olds feel online shopping is better (35%) relative to their older counterparts.

One argument in favour of the environmental side of the equation is around deliveries and fuel, as 69% feel that online deliveries are more fuel efficient and have less impact on the environment because one truck makes many deliveries, rather than many shoppers driving to stores. On the flip side, 64% feel that deliveries of online purchases mean more trucks causing pollution so there is clearly some division on this debate.

On the packaging front, three quarters (76%) feel that stores have nearly as much packaging waste as online shopping but we just don’t see it. The other 24% disagree. Two thirds (67%) feel that online shopping creates a lot more packaging waste than shopping at stores, while the other third (33%) disagrees.

“Online shopping continues to gather momentum over the years and doesn’t appear to be dissipating,” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “Story after story this year in the press and stock market have centred around the success or failure of big retailers on their ability to provide options for their customers to purchase online. The environmental debate has not been front and centre when it comes to this transition, and consumers are divided as to whether or not online shopping is better or worse on this front.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 24 out of 25 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from December 12-15, 2019 among a representative sample of 1341 BC adults. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.


For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West