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New survey says pandemic could permanently change the way Canadians shop

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The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way Canadians shop. A recent Angus Reid survey shows most Canadians say they won’t be returning to their old shopping habits even as non-essential businesses start to reopen.

In the survey, 81 per cent of Canadians said that they will continue to shop online the same amount or more in the coming months.

“You get used to having things delivered,” says Sylvie Moryoussef, a translator in Toronto, who touts the practicality of shopping online. “Sometimes you don’t have time to go out, so you order something and it’s there in a day or two.”

Connie Porkolab, a program manager at the Bank of Montreal who’s on maternity leave, says that she shops for most items online. “I just bought my toddler his bed — everything and anything you can imagine, I purchase online.”

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As a mother of three boys, all under the age of three, Porkolab says time constraints are a big factor in her shopping habits. “For me, it’s not about the pandemic. For me, it’s all about convenience,” she says. “I have two toddlers and a baby, so I don’t really have much time to go to a mall to go shopping.”

The survey, commissioned by PayPal in April, also found that 30 per cent of Canadians are shopping online for groceries, which marks a 58 per cent increase from a comparable survey conducted four weeks earlier. There was an even bigger increase in Ontario, where the number of new online grocery shoppers rose by 83 per cent.

It’s not only groceries that have Canadians on e-commerce sites. Shopping online for household supplies increased by 41 per cent, while shopping for entertainment, toys and games increased by 18 per cent in the same time period, according to the survey.

The survey also revealed that two in five Canadians who don’t shop online are worried about sharing their financial information on the internet.

Retailers are trying to meet the demands of consumers by enhancing their online checkout experiences and prioritizing concerns about customer convenience and safety.

Some retailers have added new ways to pay for online purchases. In April, Walmart Canada started offering PayPal as a payment option on Walmart.ca. PayPal does not share customers’ financial information.

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“We are proud to be the first major Canadian retailer that sells groceries to offer PayPal, making online shopping more accessible for more Canadians,” said Alexis Lanternier, executive vice-president of e-commerce for Walmart Canada.

With physical-distancing measures still in place, the ability to peruse and comparison shop from home is appealing.

“I’ll still surf around and look at different sites,” Porkolab says from her home in Toronto.

But Porkolab also says she’s likely to value the convenience of online shopping even after physical-distancing measures are lifted.

“I think just doing it online makes it easier for me,” she says. “I don’t have to leave; it gets shipped to my door. Even without the pandemic, I would continue to do that.”

READ MORE: The best time to buy things in 2020: You love to shop, so why not get the best deal?

More than 250,000 retailers and other businesses across Canada accept PayPal, including Walmart Canada. To find out more, visit PayPal Canada

READ MORE: Canadians look at new ways to shop for groceries amid COVID-19