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Most Canadians still shy away from social media for shopping: report

Only 7 per cent of Canadian shoppers use social media when making purchases, a new study suggests.

Feng Yu/iStockphoto

Canadian shoppers are increasingly using social media as part of their shopping strategies but visits to bricks-and-mortar stores still rule, says a new survey.

Although 42 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they use social media at least once a day – with an additional 17 per cent using them once a week – only 7 per cent of those polled said they use social platforms to shop, according to PwC Canada's 2013 Global Multi-Channel Retail Survey.

The 7 per cent figure compares with 12 per cent globally and 8.5 per cent in the United States.

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The poll also found that one quarter of Canadian respondents – compared to 17 per cent globally – say they rarely, if ever, shop online. Canada is second only to Russia in snubbing online shopping, according to the survey.

In Canada, 29 per cent of those queried said they don't use social media at all, compared with 24 per cent globally.

Online shoppers in Canada and globally are using social media to comment on companies and products they know and to discover new ones, it reports.

Indeed, the survey suggests that web product research-- far from contributing to diminished store traffic -- actually drives far more shoppers to make a physical store purchase than vice versa, according to the survey.

"Our survey data shows that social media will, for the near future, remain a backwater sales channel, if you can call it a sales channel at all," says the study.

When it comes to selecting brands, price isn't always the key factor, says the report. Cost is outranked by five other factors: products on offer, ease of use of the retailer's website, a fair return policy, a sense of trust in the brand or retailer and the stores themselves.

The survey also indicates that Canadian brand merchants face a difficult battle against their U.S. rivals. Only three Canadian companies – Indigo Books & Music, Canadian Tire and The Bay – rank among consumers' top-10 favourites in the multi-channel retail market, it says.

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Canadian shoppers aren't yet cozying up to smartphones for their shopping needs. The PC will remain the preferred choice in the foreseeable future for those who do online shopping, says the report.

The survey was part of an international study in 11 countries. Over 11,000 individuals took part in the online poll in July and August of 2012, including 1,333 in Canada. The results are considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More

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