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E-commerce: Shopping on the Internet

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Canadians used the Internet in 2009 to place orders for goods and services valued at $15.1 billion, up from $12.8 billion in 2007. The increase resulted from more online shoppers and a higher volume of orders.

 Value of online orders

In 2009, about 39% of Canadians aged 16 and over used the Internet to place more than 95 million orders. This was up from 32% and the 70 million orders placed in 2007, when the survey was last conducted.

Relatively more residents of British Columbia (47%) and Alberta (45%) made an online order in 2009.

Note to readers

The 2009 Canadian Internet Use Survey, sponsored by Industry Canada, was conducted in November 2009 as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey. More than 23,000 people aged 16 and over were asked about their Internet use over a 12-month period. Canadians aged 16 and 17, who accounted for 1% of the value of orders in 2007 and 2009, were excluded in 2005.

This release features Internet shopping. For information on other Internet uses, see The Daily of May 10, 2010.


Internet user: Someone who accessed the Internet from any location for personal, non-business reasons during the 12-month reference period.

Online shopper: Someone who ordered at least one product using the Internet, with or without online payment.

Window shopper: Someone who reported going online to browse for goods or services without an online order.

About one-half (51%) of Canadians aged 16 to 34 purchased a product online in 2009. Men (42%) were more likely than women (37%) to have made an online purchase.

Lower average value per order

Average value per order declined from $183 in 2007 to $158 in 2009.

Table 1

Internet shopping
  2007 2009
Internet users (%) 73 80
Online shoppers (%) 32 39
Number of orders    
Total number (thousands) 69,886 95,669
Average number per person 8.3 9.0
Value of orders    
Total value ($ thousands) 12,772,147 15,071,062
Average value per person ($) 1,520 1,420
Average value per order ($) 183 158

The top online shoppers (that is, the top 25%) spent an average of $4,210 during 2009. These top online shoppers accounted for almost one-half (49%) of total orders and over three-quarters (79%) of their value.

Travel and event tickets remain popular

The most common types of online orders continued to be travel services; entertainment products such as concert tickets; books and magazines; and clothing, jewellery and accessories.

The types of products ordered varied by the individual characteristics of online shoppers.

More than one-half (54%) of online shoppers over the age of 44 reported placing an order for travel services, while about 43% of online shoppers under the age of 25 reported ordering clothing, jewellery and accessories.

Men (28%) were twice as likely as women (13%) to order consumer electronics online.

Internet complements retail

In 2009, 52% of Canadians went online to "window shop," that is, to research or browse products, up from 43% in 2007.

Such browsing is more pronounced among Canadians under the age of 35, as 67% of this age group went online to window shop.

Among all window shoppers in 2009, 69% reported subsequently making a purchase directly from a store, up from 64% in 2007.

The Internet complements traditional retail for certain categories such as consumer electronics (cameras and DVD players), appliances and furniture, as well as clothing, jewellery and accessories.

Security concerns decline as Internet use increases

The vast majority (84%) of online shoppers paid directly over the Internet for some or all of their purchases.

There are still concerns about online credit card use. In 2009, one-half (48%) of all Canadians, whether or not they went online, reported being very concerned about online credit card use.

The level of concern was higher (61%) for those who never used the Internet. This proportion dropped to 57% among those who reported using the Internet for less than five years, and was lower (42%) for those who had been online for five or more years.

In 2009, 80% of users reported five or more years of Internet use, up from 73% in 2007. More than one-half (55%) of users with five or more years of online experience made an online order in 2009 compared with 23% of those online for less than five years.

Available on CANSIM: tables 358-0135 to 358-0138.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4432.

For more information, or to enquire about the methods, concepts or data quality of this release, contact Larry McKeown (613-951-2582; or Ben Veenhof (613-951-5067;, Business Special Surveys and Technology Statistics Division.

Table 2

Internet shopping, by type of online order
  2007 2009
  % of online shoppers
Travel services and arrangements 45 49
Other entertainment products 32 40
Books, magazines and online newspapers 37 35
Clothing, jewellery and accessories 29 33
Music 22 26
Computer software 20 22
Consumer electronics 20 21
Toys and games 15 19
Flowers, gifts 16 18
Videos and digital video discs (DVD) 14 15
Computer hardware 13 13
Housewares 11 12
Other health products, beauty and vitamins 9 11
Sports equipment 9 10
Automotive products 8 8

Table 3

Window shopping, by type of product browsed
  2007 2009
  % of window shoppers
Consumer electronics 44 48
Travel services and arrangements 41 46
Housewares 43 45
Clothing, jewellery and accessories 41 45
Books, magazines and online newspapers 31 35
Other entertainment products 26 33
Automotive products 28 31
Toys and games 21 27
Music 24 25
Real estate 19 22
Computer hardware 21 21
Videos and digital video discs (DVD) 19 20
Computer software 19 20
Sports equipment 17 18
Flowers, gifts 13 17