At the start of autumn, it’s not hard to believe that many Canadians are already thinking ahead to the holidays. However, as new research from Mintel reveals, much of the holiday shopping will not take place until a few weeks before. In fact, nearly two in five (37 percent) Canadian adults who will holiday shop in 2015 plan to do the majority of their shopping a week or two before specific holidays.

Despite 93 percent of Canadians reporting that they plan to purchase holiday presents in-store, just 12 percent plan to buy the bulk of their gifts on Black Friday and only 5 percent plan to shop on Cyber Monday. This is significantly lower than the 25 percent of American holiday shoppers who plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping on Black Friday and the 8 percent who plan to shop online on Cyber Monday, according to Mintel research.

Overall, 87 percent of Canadians shopped for holiday gifts in 2014. The 2015 holiday season will be no exception, as 90 percent of Canadians plan to give gifts this year. The majority of consumers plan to purchase at least some holiday gifts in-store (93 percent), while 81 percent plan to shop for gifts online.

“The majority of Canadian consumers have not bought into the notion of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as ‘can’t miss’ shopping days, in part, because of the relative newness of these shopping occasions, having only been introduced in 2008. Consumers are much more likely to seek deals throughout the year,” said Carol Wong-Li, Senior Analyst, Lifestyles and Leisure at Mintel. “With nearly three quarters of Canadians agreeing that they try to avoid crowds when holiday shopping and a large portion of consumers planning to buy holiday gifts online, sales events such as Cyber Monday represent a positive outlet for retailers to communicate the benefits of shopping without a crowd while still accessing the same bargains.”

Parents power the online holiday shopping charge

59% of Canadian parents plan to make at least half of their holiday purchases online

Nearly three in 10 (29 percent) Canadians who are doing holiday shopping plan to take advantage of sales on big ticket items, such as electronics or furniture, including 35 percent of parents with children under 18 at home. As they look for deals, parents (25 percent) are much more likely than those without children at home (13 percent) to research items in-store, then buy them online. Furthermore, parents (36 percent) are more likely than those with no children at home (33 percent) to research items online and wait to see which items are on sale in-store before purchasing. Canadian parents are twice as likely to do the majority of their shopping on Black Friday (18 percent vs 9 percent without children at home), while consumers without children at home are more inclined to do the majority of their shopping throughout the year (44 percent vs 34 percent of parents).

Of the 95 percent of Canadian parents who plan to do holiday shopping this year, three in five (59 percent) plan to make at least half of their holiday purchases online. Mintel research indicates that this potentially cost- and time-saving measure may be linked to parents being more likely than consumers overall to make retail purchases for family-centric holidays such as Thanksgiving (37 percent) and New Year’s Eve (35 percent).

“Our data reveals that parents are driving online holiday shopping in Canada. Not only does online shopping provide consumers the opportunity to shop on their own time while avoiding crowds in stores, but it also allows parents to scan multiple sources and price comparison shop for their children. When combined with the fact that parents are more likely to be budget-conscious as they prioritize other expenses like paying off debt, it makes sense that they navigate all routes in order to find the best deal for them when holiday shopping,” continued Wong-Li.

Buying the “right” gift vs the budget-friendly gift

Nearly half (45 percent) of holiday shoppers agree that buying the “right” items for recipients, regardless of the cost, is the most important factor when holiday shopping. However, 30 percent report that buying items that fit into their overall holiday budget is most important.

In order to meet budgets while buying the right gifts, the majority of consumers (55 percent) pay attention to advertisements promoting in-store sales, while 47 percent actively seek out online ads. Additionally, 44 percent of holiday shoppers rely on coupons and discounts during the holiday shopping season, with 40 percent reporting that they use social media to learn about discounts.

“Holiday shoppers will have an eye on their wallets this holiday season, balancing the desire to find the perfect gift with making purchases that fit within their budget. Consumers are achieving this balance by seeking out deals online, coupons that come in the mailbox and inbox, as well as discounts through social media. Retailers that engage their audience across multiple channels, provide discounts and give consumers a hassle-free experience both online and in-store will be in position to succeed during the holiday shopping season,” concluded Wong-Li.

Press review copies of the Holiday Shopping Canada 2015 report and interviews with Carol Wong-Li, Senior Analyst, Lifestyles and Leisure, are available on request from the press office.

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