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61% plan to do more online shopping this year, and about one third plan to spend more with Canadian, BC and neighbourhood businesses

Vancouver, BC —As the 2nd wave of the pandemic strengthens, early indications are that holiday spending will be dramatically altered this season, as a significant number of BC residents believe they will spend less this year compared to last. However, there is increasing momentum to shop local, shop early and shop online this year compared to previous years.

In a year where the economy is reeling from the pandemic, the potential bright spot of the upcoming holiday season appears to be dampened by a lack of shopper enthusiasm. Of the 78% of BC residents who are doing holiday shopping this year, a whopping 42% plan to spend less this year compared to last year, including 25% who will spend ‘a little less’, and 17% who will spend ‘a lot less’. It’s interesting to note that a larger proportion of 18-34 year olds—the segment who has been hardest hit by the pandemic—plan to spend more (23%) relative to other age groups (17% of 35-54 year olds and 9% of the 55+ crowd). Female shoppers are also more likely than males to spend less this year (48% compared to 36%).

Accompanying this dramatic shift in spending is the continued migration to online shopping from in-person retail stores. The number of BC shoppers planning to do more online shopping this year is nearly double the number from last year (61% vs. 33%); only 7% will be doing less holiday shopping online (versus 22% in 2019). In 2019, our polling showed that under half (45%) of BC residents planned to do the majority (at least 50%) of their holiday shopping online, and in a pandemic year, this number has increased to 64%.

Another major trend in this year’s holiday shopping season is the measurable shift towards localization of shopping behaviour. One-third (34%) of shoppers plan to spend more with Canadian-owned businesses this holiday season, and an even larger number (39%) plan to spend more this year with BC-owned businesses. This extends further to shopping at an even more local level, as about the same number will shop more with businesses located in their own municipality (37%) and 31% plan to spend more with businesses located in their own local neighbourhood. In comparison, only 5% intend to be spend more with USA or internationally-owned businesses.

Perhaps due to concerns about shipping backlogs and inventory availability, BC shoppers are getting a head-start on their shopping plans, as the average shopper has finished 42% of their shopping already. This includes a group of procrastinators (24% of shoppers) who haven’t started their holiday shopping at all, and small, enviable group of 6% who have already completed 100% of their shopping. Nearly half of shoppers (48%) tell us they have started their shopping earlier this year, including 19% who have started ‘a lot earlier’.

Charities who have been hard hit by the pandemic throughout this exceptional year might find some solace in reported giving intentions for the holidays; 26% of BC residents plan to give more to charities this year, more than double the 12% who will give less (43% will give the same).

“The pandemic has been devastating to small and medium-sized businesses across the province, and despite hopes for some pent-up demand to materialize, our poll suggests the holiday shopping season will provide little relief to businesses already under the strain of a challenging 2020” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “In a given year of normal economic expansion, the proportion of shoppers who intend to spend more always outweighs the number spending less, whereas this year the proportion spending less is more than double the percentage spending more. If there is any consolation, it is that consumers are going out of their way to support the local economy, and they are shopping earlier.”

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 25 out of 26 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 November 25-30, 2020 among a sample of 817 BC residents and 640 holiday shoppers. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points for BC residents and +/- 3.9 for shoppers, 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