Canadians may be on hold for Cyber Monday buys

Cyber Monday, dubbed by the U.S. National Retail Federation as one of the biggest online shopping days on the calendar, may not be such a great deal for Canadian Internet consumers, according to industry experts.

Recent data from, a network of virtual retailers and the e-commerce arm of the U.S. National Retail Federation retailers’ trade group, suggests that the Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday is expected to attract 72 million online shoppers worldwide. The survey also suggested that an estimated US$700 million in online retail sales, a 21 per cent jump over last year’s Cyber Monday extravaganza.

IT managers might fear the day, considering that much of this shopping is done from consumers at work, with the study indicating 55 per cent of U.S. office workers making an online purchase during the day. And data from Chicago-based job placement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc. indicated that employers could lose over $488 million in productivity as employees do their shopping on the clock.

And with the surging dollar and more Canadians making online purchases at U.S.-based retailers, Cyber Monday and its aftermath – dubbed Cyber Week at outlets like Wal-Mart – is sure to be attractive to Canadian shoppers. But according to Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, despite the substantial increase in Canadian shoppers using U.S. shopping sites, most consumers won’t receive their orders until after the holiday season.

“We’ve found in most cases that goods were shipped within 48 hours of ordering and in some cases 24 hours as the American retailers are very good at this,” Cran said. “But when they goods reach the boarder, they get no further and are held up despite what Canadian boarder services and the post office are saying.”

Cran said he’s never seen activity of this scale before, which was kicked off shortly after the dollar reached parity. He points at Canadian online retailers’ reluctance to slash prices as the driving factor behind the tremendous increase in U.S.-based online shopping and the potential that Cyber Monday and beyond might have in luring Canadian dollars south.

Other retail analysts, such as Rena Granofsky at Toronto-based RIT Experts, said Canadian online shops should not only be cutting prices, but also altering their marketing strategy to compete over the next month of holiday shopping. Some of these competitive initiatives, as she called them, are emphasizing quicker delivery options and pricing transparency.

“Canadians need to be sure of delivery time and their needs to be transparency in the discounts offered,” Granofsky said.

Another potential advantage for Canadian online retailers, Granofsky said, is to sell customers on the multi-channel aspect of shopping at closer to home.

“The ability to order online and pick up in the store is huge, especially when you think about gifts,” Granofsky said. “To be able to return the gift to any store in Canada is a huge advantage for retailers and it should be advertised that way.”

The effect of Cyber Monday and the weeks that follow it will not be evident for some time. The Retail Council of Canada said they would not have any Canadian figures from Cyber Monday until the end of December.

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