Holiday Retail Trends: Where Are People Shopping This Season?

Consumer behaviour is always changing, and this holiday season is no different. But what might be different is where consumers are planning to shop.

In-store or online? Is the shopping mall dead? Are people buying from their desktop computers or mobile phones? We’re digging into all of these holiday retail trends and more to see where people are shopping in the 2019 season.

General Insights

According to, in 2018:

  • 56% of Canadian survey respondents made a point of shopping with retailers who offered coupons.
  • Yet more Canadians (58%) are focused on finding the best gift vs. the best deal (42%).


In 2018, Retail Insider reported that 29% of Canadian consumers planned to visit between six and 10 physical stores to do their holiday shopping.

PwC Canada found in its 2018 Canadian Holiday Outlook report that 63% of overall consumers planned to shop in-store, vs. 22% on desktop/laptop, and 9% on smartphone. But it may be generational. Only 43% of Millennials planned to shop primarily in-store vs. 27% via a desktop/laptop and 15% by smartphone.

In addition, nearly half of Canadian consumers like to visit stores to find inspiration and compare prices. However, more Millennials turn to Amazon and Google for these matters, rather than going in-store.

According to, top in-store purchases for the holidays included gift cards, clothing and accessories, and health and beauty.

Shopping Malls

The shopping mall has recently made a comeback thanks to a rising demographic: Generation Z.

According to a study by the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC), three-quarters of Gen Z say that shopping in physical stores provides a better experience compared with shopping online. And for key product categories, Gen Z-ers make most of their purchases in physical stores.

When asked why they prefer in-store shopping, the top three reasons were:

  • The ability to socialize with friends/family (58%).
  • Being able to physically see/touch/try on merchandise (58%).
  • And getting items immediately (53%).

According to a study by the Retail Council of Canada, the top shopping centres in Canada are doing better than their U.S. counterparts.

Yorkdale Shopping Centre is the most profitable in the country, averaging $1,905 in sales per square foot, according to Daily Hive.

West Edmonton Mall recently announced a major rebranding, which could also see holiday sales go up.

Online Shopping

According to, top Canadian online holiday purchases in 2018 included books, electronics, and toys.

While more Canadians are still shopping in-store than online, e-commerce is on the rise. And many Canadians plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping online.

What’s more, e-commerce can drive in-store sales. According to PwC Canada, 11% of shoppers regularly order products online and pick up in-store, 35% of shoppers do so “on occasion,” and 24% have not used this service, but would in the future.

According to a 2018 study, Amazon took the top e-commerce spot for Canadians.

Mobile Apps

When it comes to online shopping, there can also be a difference between shopping from a desktop/laptop or from a smartphone.

As previously stated, PwC Canada reported that in 2018 22% of consumers planned to shop on desktop/laptop vs. 9% on smartphone. 5% planned to use a tablet. Those statistics were higher for Millennials.

Mobile can also have different uses for consumers — and different opportunities for brands and retailers if they are the ones creating the smartphone apps.

According to the survey, in 2018:

  • 36% of consumers used mobile apps or mobile payments.
  • 33% used store mobile apps to make purchases.

As the 2019 holiday season approaches, it’s wise to make sure that all of your shopping channels are optimized for consumers to ensure strong results across the board!

Marketsupport Canada can help you prepare. Whether you need to take control of your brand in-store, online, or beyond, we have the solution for you.

Learn more by calling 1-877-421-5081 or visiting

« Back to Blog