‘Green’ is in this holiday season, as is social media shopping

The Macy’s Day Parade balloons have been stowed for another year, the shoppers have trampled each other in pursuit of cheap home electronics, and long-suffering Detroit Lions fans (yes, there are some of us out here) have been subjected to yet another Thanksgiving Day debacle on national TV.

All of which means the flag has now officially dropped on the 2019 holiday shopping season. Ladies and gentlemen, start your credit cards.

Another holiday staple is the arrival of forecasts and surveys from research firms predicting just how—and where—people plan to shop for the holidays. Among this year’s themes: A focus on recyclable or reusable gifts, socially conscious gift-giving, and the rise of social media shopping. 

Once strictly a U.S. phenomenon, Black Friday has become a Canadian shopping day in recent years. In a survey of 1,698 Canadians conducted by research company Field Agent Canada, 90.8% said they intended to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and expect to spend an average of $377 per person.

According to Field Agent, adult clothing and accessories, home electronics and home essentials are the three most popular Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping categories, with Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy the most popular retail destinations.

Studies from Accenture and PayPal Canada, meanwhile, have provided some insight into some of the key consumer motivations around holiday shopping. Among the most notable:

Green shopping is in…

According to Accenture, Canadians plan to put 30% of their holiday shopping budget towards gifts that are recyclable, 27% on gifts that are reusable and 19% on gifts made by “green” companies.

Well over half of Canadians (58%) said that retailers have a responsibility to address wider social issues, with 51% saying they will give more of their business to retailers they deem responsible.

“With increased awareness about the climate crisis, it’s no surprise that responsible retail matters now more than ever, especially going into the holiday season, where we typically see an increase in consumption and waste,” says Robin Sahota, a managing director at Accenture who leads its retail practice. “Consumers want to fill stockings based on companies’ offerings of both environmentally friendly products and sustainable business practices.”

…and so is social media shopping

A PayPal Canada study, meanwhile, suggests that 40% of Canadians plan to shop via social media this season. It says that Canadian social media users spend an average of $924 a year spending on social media platforms.

In a recent report on social commerce, eMarketer found that the percentage of North American retailers using social media as a source of e-commerce jumped from 17% in 2017 to 33% last year.

“An increasing appetite from Canadian shoppers to take advantage of the fast and straightforward experience that social commerce provides is the one of the factors driving this trend,” says PayPal.

The trend towards social shopping aligns with findings from Accenture which revealed that Canadians expect to do 25% of Black Friday shopping on phones or tablets, up from 18% last year.

Facebook is the most shopped social media platform at 29%, according to PayPal, followed by Snapchat (26%) and Instagram (25%). And social media shopping can take place anywhere: 42% of Canadians have shopped on social while commuting, while 32% have shopped during a conference call or work meeting.

According to PayPal, 41% of Canadian social media users are inspired by product and service recommendations from social media influencers and creators, while 62% say they are more inspired by the holiday gift recommendations they see on social versus those they see in-store.

The most purchased items via social: clothing, shoes and accessories (54%), electronics (26%) and toys and games (21%). More than half of social media shoppers admitted to making impulse purchases.

Reducing the carbon footprint

Nearly half (47%) of Canadian consumers and 58% of millennials who are aware of the environmental impact of faster shipping said they will choose greener options like in-store pick-up.

Nearly one-quarter (23%) of respondents who indicated they are unaware of the environmental impact of faster shipping plan on opting for greener methods this season.

The majority of Canadians (64%) also want to see retailers offer packaging-free products, while 63% said they would use recycling services offered by a retailer and 50% said they would trade in or re-sell an item for a discount towards a gift purchase.

Stocking stuffers

  • More than half (55%) of respondents in the Accenture study said they plan to buy gift cards this year, followed by clothing and footwear (49%) and toys (34%).
  • Saving on delivery costs is also a big draw for shoppers, more 50% indicating that they are willing to wait longer for items to be delivered in exchange for free delivery.
  • Canadians plan to spend around $721 on holiday shopping this year, with high-income earners willing to spend up to $1,056.


Chris Powell