Holiday shopping: Canadian exporters pivot to sell online to customers worldwide

It’s been a strange and unusual year. Businesses all over the world have felt the effect of the COVID‑19 pandemic. In order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, both businesses and consumers are heeding measures on social distancing. This has led to an unprecedented growth in e‑commerce and is guiding consumer preferences toward on‑line holiday shopping in 2020.

Canadian businesses are adapting to the reality of social distancing and using technology to serve their customers. Canadian exporters are proving resilient in the face of the crisis and have indicated their plans to increase their e‑commerce engagement over the holiday buying season, reaching customers via websites, social media, and applications.

The changes that businesses have initiated are highlighted in Statistics Canada’s August 2020 Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC). This survey collects information on businesses in Canada related to emerging issues and focused on the impact of COVID‑19 on businesses in Canada. The survey asked businesses about the extent to which use of various methods to provide goods or services to customers is expected to change over the next three months. This period includes November’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday events and the lead up to the all‑important holiday shopping period in December.

The accompanying chart shows the percentage of Canadian businesses that expect to increase the use of certain methods for providing good or services to customers. All businesses expect to make changes in the way they conduct business but exporters appear to be adapting at a higher rate than other businesses. For example, 14.2% of all businesses noted that they would be increasing the use of their website to sell their goods and services. The corresponding response from exporting businesses was 25.9%. Increasing the use of social media to reach customers saw similar positive rates among all businesses, but particularly exporters.

Percentage of Canadian Businesses that Expect to Increase the Use of These Methods for Serving Customers
 Business's own websiteSocial media accountEmailExternal website, platform, app or online market placeBusiness's own application
All business14.2%13.5%17.3%8.5%3.5%
Exporters of goods and services25.9%23.7%22.3%11.5%4.9%

Source: Office of the Chief Economist, Global Affairs Canada
Data: Statistics Canada, Table 33‑10‑0275‑1, Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, August 2020

Businesses were also asked whether they would be increasing the use of external sources to either host their business or sell their products or services. For this method, which includes external e‑marketplaces or cloud based software service providers, 8.7% of all businesses said yes, while 11.0% of exporters replied in the affirmative.


In the face of the challenges posed by the pandemic, many Canadian exporters are proving to be resilient. Canadian exporters are adapting to new ways of connecting with and selling goods and services to their customers around the world this holiday season.

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