Even with online buying on the rise, many Canadians say hitting the stores just makes more sense

Although there seems to be a push towards the ease and accessibility of online shopping now more than ever, many consumers still appreciate and prefer visiting retail outlets.

Kim Stewart, a working mother of two, said she is frustrated by sites like Amazon.ca.

“You never know what you’re going to get,” she said. “It becomes too much of a hassle and, as a busy mother, I have no time to be waiting around for things I can drive 10 minutes to buy in person.”

Stewart prefers the experience of going to the mall to get her shopping done.

“Although I am not a fan of interacting with my fellow mall-goers and customer service staff, it’s more of an adventure for me to go on missions to find clothes, gifts, pretty much anything,” she said. “To be able to physically hold on to it, to try it on; the ease of online is not worth more than that to me.”

With local malls as busy as ever, many people prefer visiting stores rather than websites like eBay.ca and Amazon.ca that create an easy and almost effortless shopping experience

Photo by Olivia Condon
Though online shopping may appeal to certain audiences, in urban centres with easy mall access, retail stores seem to appeal to larger audiences.

“Even my stay-at-home-mom friends prefer to go to the mall to get their shopping done. I know they appreciate the experience of interacting with the people they meet while there,” Stewart said.

The numbers, however, may seem to express otherwise. In 2010, online retail made $49 billion, which is three per cent of Canada’s GDP. However, these numbers have leveled-out, with projections only accounting for a maximum of 3.6 per cent of the country’s GDP by 2016, stats Canada said back in July.

The “lag” in online sales among Canadians may be attributed to consumer habits. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” comes to mind when assessing the number of consumers who can afford to be online shopping. With the Canadian mean age increasing, older consumers would seem more likely to visit the malls than their online counterparts.

As well, many young consumers have limited resources available to purchase online; without credit cards to charge their purchases to they may have no choice but to visit malls.

For instance, Ashley Mananquil, a 17-year-old Mount Royal University social work student, thinks that shopping online will only ever be second best.

Local malls are seeing a steady increase in the volume as the holiday season approaches

Photo by Olivia Condon
“I don’t have my own credit card, which makes it hard for me to buy things online,” Mananquil said. “Even if I did I would prefer mall shopping, it’s a social thing for me and my friends, as it is for many people my age. I will online shop but only for unique things that I can’t find in stores; that’s the only purpose it will serve for me.”

Meanwhile, Brenda Morphew, a single mother of two teenage boys, said she has no time to waste returning purchases made online and much rather prefers going to retail stores: “My boys are constantly growing and becoming more fashion aware, it seems, every day. Being able to try clothes on to make sure that they fit and are stylish is something that we need when making purchases.”

Morphew also mentioned that especially with Christmas fast approaching, being able to return unwanted gifts is imperative.

“When I make holiday purchases I always get the gift receipt just to be sure,” she noted. “Can you imagine if someone had to go to the trouble of returning something online and having to pay for the shipping? It just makes more sense to be able to take it back and get what you need without all that hassle”

ocondon@cjournal.ca