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September 28, 2010

Internet Shopping on the Rise in Canada

CANADA/TECHNOLOGY - According to Statistics Canada more Canadians are buying more goods and services online and they're doing so more often.

In 2009 Canadians bought $15.1 billion CDN worth of items and services online, up 17% from the $12.8 billion they bought in 2007.

39% of Canadians now shop online, up from 32% in 2007. The rate is highest (over 50%) among young people, between the ages of 16 and 34.

The total number of orders grew 38% too, up to 95 million orders in 2009 compared to 70 million orders in 2007. But the amount we spend has dropped (deflation anyone?) from $183 CDN in 2007 to $158 in 2009.

The fact the average amount we spend is dropping just means we're being more fiscally conservative and trying to save more.

Popular things to buy online is music, cellphone ringtones, movies, books, electronics, plane tickets/travel packages, magazines, clothing, jewelry and accessories.

Some people shop online a lot more than others. The top 25% of online shoppers account for over half of all orders and accounted for 80% of the overall value. This "top 25" spent an average of $4,210 CDN online in 2009.

Statistics Canada also reports that more Canadians are researching products online before they buy them in person (online window shopping). 52% of Canadians say they researched products online in 2009, compared to only 43% in 2007. 70% of online window shoppers later bought the product they were researching.

ie. Lets say you were researching windows blinds and looked up fabric blinds on Levolor.com, but you didn't purchase them online for whatever reason. Instead you went to one of the 9 different locations in Toronto (ie. Canadian Tire, Sears or Zellers) where you can buy Levolor's fabric blinds so you can see how they work in person. (See also Window Blinds and Your Health.)

Online shopping however still represents a tiny percentage of total retail sales in Canada. Many Canadian retailers (Bay, Zellers, Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire) don't even offer people the option to shop online and have items delivered.

Its believed SmartPhones will accelerate online shopping growth / window shopping, especially with new SmartPhone coupons that people will have the option of turning on and off when they feel like getting a discount.

"Most people will probably just leave the coupon function on their phone on all the time for fear of missing a major sale," says one research analyst.

INTERNET SHOPPING SAFETY TIPS

1. Foreign companies can acquire .CA, .US or .UK web addresses, so check if there is a postal address on the website or use WHOIS to determine who actually owns the company.

2. Be cautious about using businesses that only provide a PO Box address, or have no address at all.

3. Make sure the address of the payment page starts with https://. HTTPS means it is a secure site and a small padlock icon should appear at the bottom of the browser.

4. Do not deal with businesses that ask you to transfer money directly into their bank accounts.

5. For purchases of $100 or more using your credit card will give you extra protection as you may be able to claim from the credit card company if you get defrauded.

6. If you use an internet payment service, such as PayPal, ALWAYS check to see how easy it will be to get your money back if something goes wrong.

7. Check what the website says about cancelling an order. By law (this may vary depending on where you live), the cancellation period begins the day after the order is made and ends seven working days from the day after the goods are delivered.

8. Always print out or save a copy of your order and a copy of the acknowledgement email (if any).

9. Always check your bank statement, to ensure you have been charged correctly.

10. Consult your local Consumer Protection websites in Canada, the USA, the UK or wherever you happen to live. ie. In Britain you can call Consumer Direct at 0845 4040506; or in Ontario you can visit the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services.

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