TORONTO; Oct. 16, 2018 – Canadian consumers will turn to convenient digital shopping options for their gift purchases and opt to spend their money at Canadian retailers this holiday season, according to findings from the 2018 Holiday Shopping Survey from Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

Now in its seventh year, the survey uncovered a major increase in Canadian shoppers’ use of Instagram and other social media when planning or making shopping decisions. The percentage of shoppers who said they plan to use Instagram alone for their online shopping almost doubled since last year, from 25 per cent to 46 per cent, with more than half of shoppers saying they would use YouTube to make shopping decisions or purchases. The use of social media in general is increasing, with 37 per cent of shoppers saying social media will make their shopping easier when buying for people not normally on their list, up from 30 per cent in 2017.

Canadian shoppers are using social media when making shopping decisions.

In 2018, there was a major increase of Canadian shoppers who use social media during their shopping process.

Keeping it Canadian

The survey also found that shoppers intend to make their gift purchases at Canadian retailers rather than travel to the United States or shop with U.S. online retailers, with 41 per cent opting to keep their dollars north of the border—up from 31 per cent from last year. This could change, however, with the recent U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“It will be interesting to see if Canadian shoppers continue to favour Canadian retailers now that the threshold for duty-free items has been raised from $20 to $150 per person for online shopping,” said Robin Sahota, a managing director at Accenture who leads its Retail practice in Canada. “While that significant bump gives Canadians a lot more spending power with U.S. online retailers, their preference to shop Canadian could be based on more than price.”

Shopping with values

The Accenture survey also revealed that increasingly, and not only during this time of year, Canadian shoppers plan to make their money count by doing business with retailers that reflect their values, with 54 per cent basing their purchasing decisions on these factors. Offering a fair and wide product range that caters to most or all demographics is important for 67 per cent of shoppers, with 31 per cent planning to shop at companies that demonstrate social and environmental awareness.

“It’s not just about the lowest price or the most convenient shopping experience; consumers are more socially aware than ever before,” said Kelly Askew, a managing director at Accenture Strategy. “If retailers are able to make some effort to incorporate diversity and inclusion into how they conduct business, Canadians will take notice.”

More options, more security

Regardless of retailer location, the Accenture survey showed that Canadians continue to adopt new technology, payment options and services to make their shopping experience faster and easier. More than half (53 per cent) of shoppers said they could see themselves buying products online using an artificial assistant tool such as Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana or Apple’s Siri.

But as digital shopping becomes more prevalent, so too do security concerns. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of respondents cited a concern about the security of their personal information when shopping online, up from 60 per cent last year. As a result, shoppers are taking measures to protect themselves and their personal information, with an increasing number—44 per cent this year, compared with 31 per cent last year—saying they will avoid brands that had a recent data security breach.

“As consumers become more digitally savvy, they’re also getting smarter about security,” said Ahmed Etman, a managing director in Accenture’s Security practice in Canada. “They’re taking measures to protect their information while shopping online, such as only buying from reputable brands, choosing complex passwords, and keeping up with recommended security updates.”

Among some other findings of the survey:

  • Average spend to increase: Canadians plan to spend an average of $733 on gifts this holiday season, up from $648 last year.
  • Canadians shop for gifts year-round: Consistent with last year’s survey, many consumers are shopping for holiday gifts year-round due to ongoing sales and discounts on deal websites and Amazon Prime Day.
  • Black Friday isn’t a huge draw: Four in 10 shoppers (39 per cent) said they are not planning to shop on Black Friday this year; those who do plan to shop on Black Friday said they will do so mainly for the “door-crasher” deals.

For more information, download the 2018 Canada Holiday Survey infographic.

About the survey

Accenture surveyed 1,500 Canadian consumers about their holiday shopping habits. Respondents were sourced equally from the Toronto, Montreal and Calgary areas, and split evenly by age group, with 20 percent each of Generation Zers (aged 18-20), younger millennials (aged 21-27), older millennials / Gen Yers (aged 28-37), Generation Xers (aged 38-54), and baby boomers (over age 55). The survey was conducted online in August 2018 and used input from consumers who have purchased an item for personal use online or in store within the prior six months.

About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions—underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network—Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 459,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at


Theresa Ebden

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