New figures from Statistics Canada show the COVID-19 pandemic caused a boom in online shopping. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)

New figures from Statistics Canada show the COVID-19 pandemic caused a boom in online shopping. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)

Value of goods and services purchased online by Canadians rose almost 50 per cent in 2020

A growing number of Canadians are shopping online for groceries

New figures from Statistics Canada show the COVID-19 pandemic caused a boom in online shopping.

More than four in five Canadians (82 per cent) shopped online in 2020, up from 73 per cent in 2018. Online spending during the same period rose by 47 per cent, from $57.4 billion to $84.4 billion.

These figures appear in a report on the 2020 Canadian Internet Use Survey.

“While the share of Canadians (92 per cent) using the Internet increased only slightly since 2018 (91 per cent), how we use it and for how long each day has changed dramatically since the onset of the pandemic,” the report reads.

This change has been perhaps most obvious in two areas: shopping and working.

Clothing, groceries, books and electronics ranked among the most purchased physical goods online in both 2018 and 2020. Just over three in four Canadians (76 per cent) bought physical goods online in 2020, up from 63 per cent in 2018. Their average spending on these goods doubled from $1,165 in 2018 to $2,336 in 2020.

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The jump in online shopping for groceries was notable. Just over one in five Canadians (21 per cent) said they shopped online for groceries more frequently than before the pandemic, and 45 per cent shopped more frequently for other physical goods.

“In fact, 13 (per cent) of Canadians ordered groceries online for the first time during the pandemic and 9 (per cent) bought other physical goods for the first time,” the report stated.

Canadians also increased their purchases of certain kinds of services.

By contrast, Canadians spent less on online services such as travel arrangements or tickets for live sporting, entertainment or cultural events, most of which were limited or prohibited during the pandemic in any case.

Almost seven out of 10 Canadians (68 per cent) bought digital goods and services in 2020 such as music or video downloads and online data-storage services, up from 52 per cent in 2018. Shoppers who bought digital goods and services spent on average $568 in 2020, up from $346 in 2018.

RELATED: More than 45% of workers in Greater Victoria could work from home

As for work, the survey notes that working from home was the only option for some Canadians during the pandemic.

Over two-fifths of Canadians aged 18 to 65 – some 43 per cent – said they used the Internet more often to work from home than before the pandemic and 15 per cent used the Internet to work from home for the first time.


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