You might think most Canadian shopping happens online. You’d be wrong: B.C. analyst

Shoppers wait in line before the opening of a Best Buy in Quebec City on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, 2016. Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press

When Boxing Day shopping kicks off this year, Canadians shouldn’t be surprised to see shoppers crowding stores instead of furiously clicking away on their computers.

Despite popular perception, less than 10 per cent of Canadian retail sales happen online, Vancouver-based analyst David Ian Gray tells CKNW.

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Gray, principal strategist with retail consulting firm DIG360, said from the research conducted between his firm and Leger, only eight per cent of all retail sales in Canada take place online.

“I think most people would think it was 80 by the way you hear about it in the media, but it’s really more around eight,” he said.

“And our system of shipping — Canada Post, UPS, FedEx — they’d be hard-pressed to handle 12 or 14 per cent, let alone 50 per cent of sales going through online.”

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Physical stores are expected to be busy for Boxing Day this year, though less so than previous years, Gray said, noting one in five Canadian adults are expected to partake in Boxing Day shopping this year, down two per cent from last year.

Nevertheless, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has warned shoppers to be patient when visiting stores during Boxing Day.

For example, if you need to return an item, a store won’t have to refund you if they’re only offering store credit.

And there are no laws to govern that practice in B.C.

“People come in and say, ‘Well, they’re offering more store credit, but there’s nothing else that I want in the store,'” said BBB spokesman Evan Kelly.

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“There’s not much we can do about that because… then you’ll maybe have to give that to a friend or something, because as long as the store is sticking to their refund and return policy, then we’re happy with that.”

The heavy traffic expected at many stores during Boxing Day sales also means that some retailers might not take any returns until January.

— With files from Michelle Morton

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