New SAS Data Shows Canadians Prefer To Shop In-Store During the Holidays  

Canadian shoppers want personalized offers this holiday season 

The majority of Canadians plan to do their holiday shopping in-store according to new research from SAS. The analytics leader surveyed 4,061 adult consumers from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom about their holiday shopping habits. The research found that 85% of Canadians surveyed favour shopping in-store for their holiday gifts, compared to 59% and 70% of their British and American counterparts, respectively.

“Despite global e-commerce trending upward, Canadians still prefer the in-store experience during the holidays,” said Augustin Nguyen SAS Retail Solutions Specialist for SAS Canada. “During the busiest shopping season, retailers should remember that consumers are only as loyal as you give them reason to be. To compete, retailers need to leverage the power of technology and high performance analytics to understand customers personally, delivering real-time deals and recommendations both online and in-store.”

Canadians are Skittish about Mobile Payments

While Canadians prefer shopping in-store, many are still hesitant to embrace mobile payments: 90% of shoppers today do not use mobile payments, with 62% saying their credit or debit card is just as convenient, and 31% citing security concerns. 

Canadians Won’t Stand for ‘Out of Stock’

Retailers need to be equipped with the right volume of each product in stock during the holidays, as half (51%) of Canadians surveyed said that if a brand or item they wanted to purchase was not available in-store, they would go to another store to find it. Likewise, if an item is out of stock online, more than half (59%) of those surveyed would go to a different website to get their desired gift.

Using analytics, retailers can improve demand forecasting to help inform how much product to have in stock during the holidays and cut down on missed opportunities.

One way to get around inventory issues is gift cards, which SAS’ research found are the most popular gifts Canadians plan to give this year (66%), followed by clothing and accessories (48%), and books, music or movies (39%).

Personalized Marketing is Essential to Compete 

When it comes to holiday shopping, consumers may prefer shopping in store, but they still research gift ideas online. Twenty-nine per cent of respondents reported using online retailers’ product suggestions to find ideas for gifts to give, and more than half of shoppers (54%) go through with purchasing an item suggested by online retailers at least some of the time.

But, retailers have some work to do when it comes to providing useful product recommendations: 44% of shoppers felt that retailer’s product suggestions based on previous searches or purchases were not very accurate. 

Canadian shoppers are looking for more personalized communications across the board, with 66% of survey respondents saying they prefer personalized emails from companies they do business with, and 48% saying they like promotional emails and offers in their inbox from companies related to their lifestyle and/or interests.

Canadian Shopper Insights

Additional insights from SAS’ holiday shopping research include:

  • Shopping on Black Friday (22%) and Cyber Monday (16%) have become increasingly popular days for Canadians – both up from last year.
  • Six in ten of respondents plan to shop during after-holiday sales.
  • Thirty-five per cent of online shoppers cited saving time as the main reason they shop via the web, 35% also stated free shipping offers as a reason and 48% do so out of convenience.
  • Online shoppers are savvy: 90% read product reviews and 97% compare prices online.
  • E-retailers take note, 18% of online shoppers will only wait less than twenty seconds for a transaction to complete once they’ve placed their gifts in a virtual shopping basket.
  • If given the options for a robot to buy gifts for a specific set of people on their shopping list, 78% of Canadians said they would prefer to buy gifts on their own which means nearly a quarter would be open to an effortless holiday shopping experience.

About the Survey

The online survey was conducted by SAS Market Research and Survey Sampling International between October 4 and October 11, 2016. The survey was completed by a representative sample of more than 4,000 adults in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The margin of error for the survey is 1.5%.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in analytics. Through innovative software and services, SAS empowers and inspires customers around the world to transform data into intelligence. SAS gives you THE POWER TO KNOW®.

The Canadian subsidiary of SAS has been in operation since 1988. Headquartered in Toronto, SAS employs more than 300 people across the country at its Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City and Montréal offices. For more information, please visit


Editorial contacts:

Suzanne Sprajcar

Head of Communications, SAS Canada