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Before the Internet was launched commercially, few people outside the scientific and academic worlds were aware of this new technology. Commerce has since changed in unimaginable ways and it is now possible to search, purchase and sell just about anything over the Internet. Using data from Statistics Canada's Internet use surveys, this research examines the data, trends and patterns in Canadian online shopping from 2001 to 2007. Despite the enormous growth, the value of online orders is still relatively small compared with total retail sales. Although the Internet is having profound impacts on consumer behaviour, it appears that the potential detrimental effect on traditional retail has not come to fruition, at least not yet. Rather, electronic commerce has become an important complement for traditional retail in some product categories, as well as a substitute in others. In 2007, Internet shopping remained concentrated with a small group of Canadians accounting for almost one-half of online orders and over three-quarters of their value. While some factors, such as concerns for online credit card security, may be delaying electronic commerce from the mainstream, demographic and technological factors should continue to encourage online shopping.
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