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Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Holiday Shopping market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?


For the purposes of this Report, “holiday shopping” refers to expected consumer expenditures on holiday-specific items such as gifts, decorations, seasonal candy and other food, greeting cards and other expenditures.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Carol Wong-Li, a leading analyst in the Lifestyles and Leisure sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Virtually all Canadians are shopping for the holidays (93%). While Christmas is a primary driver of holiday shopping activity for consumers, retailers should be mindful that non-winter holiday celebrations such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are also major shopping events that Canadians shop and plan ahead for. Canadians lean more towards home-based celebrations, meaning that food and beverage categories as well as home-centric activities that encourage in-person interactions will be top of mind. Although finding savings will always be a priority, the notion of buying for others and making a good impression will lead consumers to break out of their regular shopping routines. Consumers today are leveraging multiple sources in their quest to find discounts and learn about products, however, Canadians continue to lean towards completing their holiday shopping journeys in-stores. Carol Wong-Li
Senior Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst


What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definitions
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Canadians are shopping for the holidays year round
            • Figure 1: Likelihood to search for savings when shopping for the holidays, March 2018
          • Fragmentation is seen in retailer choices when prepping for the holidays
            • Figure 2: Planned shopping at retailer type (net any channel), March 2018
          • Retailers must do more to impress
            • Figure 3: Approach to holiday shopping, March 2018
          • The opportunities
            • A seamless experience may be the best defense to preventing drop-off
              • Figure 4: Approach to holiday shopping, March 2018
            • Home is where the heart is for holiday celebrations
              • Figure 5: Holiday traditions, March 2018
            • There may be room for new traditions: young people are going out
              • Figure 6: Go out for a meal, by age, March 2018
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Consumers have more spending power
                • Competition in the Canadian retail landscape continues to heat up
                • Market Factors

                  • A stronger economy means more spending power
                    • Figure 7: Perception of financial health, January/February 2015-18
                  • Retailers catering to home celebratory needs are well positioned
                    • Figure 8: Monthly movement in selected components of the Canadian Consumer Price Index, seasonally adjusted, March 2013-March 2018
                  • The retail landscape in Canada is changing
                    • International retailers continue to increase their presence
                      • The discount stores and off-priced retailing scene is heating up
                        • The threat of Amazon looms
                        • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                          • As competition heats up, some retailer types are losing ground
                            • Looking ahead, deals may be more frequent and easier to come by
                            • What’s Working?

                              • Mass merchandisers have mass appeal
                                • Figure 9: Planned shopping at mass merchandisers (net any channel), by income, March 2018
                              • Walmart’s holiday campaigns highlight that holiday prep is not just about the gifts
                                • Figure 10: Christmas PJs, November 2017
                                • Figure 11: Affordable Gear for Canada Day, May 2017
                              • Interest in Amazon spans across all age groups
                                • Figure 12: Planned shopping at Amazon, by age, March 2018
                                • Figure 13: Amazon email, May 2018
                              • Let’s get physical: enhancing the in-store experiences keep consumers engaged
                              • What’s Struggling?

                                • Fragmentation is seen in retailer choices when prepping for the holidays
                                  • Figure 14: Planned shopping at retailer type (net any channel), March 2018
                                • Private label will help grocery retailers hold their lane – Particularly with 18-34s
                                  • Figure 15: PC Shrimp & Scallops Au Gratin, November 2017
                                • Department stores may be losing ground
                                  • Figure 16: Planned shopping at department stores and dollar stores, by household income, March 2018
                                • Department stores may see gains by focusing messaging on quality
                                • What’s Next?

                                  • Retailers are creating their own sales events
                                    • Figure 17: Way Day, Wayfair direct mail campaign, April 2018
                                  • Partnerships are make deals sweeter for consumers
                                    • Figure 18: Make Mother’s Day Amazing, Hilton Honors email campaign, May 2018
                                • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                  • Home is where the heart is when it comes to holidays
                                    • Most are going in with a strategy
                                      • Some will alter shopping habits to make a good impression
                                      • Holiday Shopping

                                        • Canadians are shopping for holiday occasions throughout the year
                                          • Figure 19: Holidays shopped for, March 2018
                                        • In addition to Christmas, Moms shop for holidays during the year
                                          • Figure 20: Holidays shopped for (select), moms with children under-18 at home vs overall, March 2018
                                        • Loyalty programs may be a good way to capture mom’s attention
                                          • Parents of teens may be bonding over Thanksgiving and New Years
                                            • Figure 21: Holidays shopped for, Parents with 12-17s at home vs overall, March 2018
                                          • Activities that foster in-person interactions will win over the entire family
                                            • Figure 22: Play Great Games Together – Nintendo Switch, May 2018
                                          • Fathers are engaged for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day shopping
                                            • Figure 23: Holidays shopped for, dads with under-18s at home vs overall, March 2018
                                          • Showcasing dads in the lead role of party planner will resonate
                                            • Figure 24: Share Reel Love for Father's Day, June 2017
                                        • Holiday Traditions

                                          • Home is where the heart is – Even for holiday celebrations
                                            • Figure 25: Holiday traditions, March 2018
                                          • Older consumers are more likely to host meals
                                            • Figure 26: Hosting a meal, by age, March 2018
                                          • Focusing on the social side of hosting will bring gains
                                            • Younger consumers are also keen to go out for celebrations
                                              • Figure 27: Go out for a meal, by age, March 2018
                                            • Share-worthy experiences are key to reaching younger consumers
                                            • Approach to Holiday Shopping

                                              • Most consumers are going in knowledgeable and prepared
                                                • Figure 28: Approach to holiday shopping, March 2018
                                              • Parents are more zoned in when shopping for gifts
                                                • Figure 29: Researching items online then buying in-store and showrooming, parents vs non-parents, March 2018
                                              • Visibility and a seamless shopping experience will win over parents
                                                • Ideas begin online with gift lists and social media for young women
                                                  • Figure 30: Using gift list and social media, women 18-24 vs overall, March 2018
                                                • Showcase what’s new to engage young women at the start of their process
                                                  • Figure 31: The look: glitter eye, January 2018
                                                • Then give them something to talk about at the end
                                                  • Men 18-44 are most likely to be last-minute shoppers
                                                    • Figure 32: ‘I am mostly a last- minute shopper’ (% agree), men 18-44 and fathers with under-18s at home vs overall, March 2018
                                                  • The ability to create wish or gift lists could appeal to younger men
                                                  • Preparation Behaviours

                                                    • The quest for savings will never go out of style
                                                        • Figure 33: Likelihood to search for savings when shopping for the holidays, March 2018
                                                      • Women 35-54 will take all the savings they can get
                                                        • Figure 34: Likelihood to search for savings when shopping for the holidays, women by age, March 2018
                                                      • Good opportunity exists for department stores to gain the attention of women 35-54
                                                        • The quest for savings isn’t always for others
                                                          • Figure 35: ‘I often buy sale items for myself’ and ‘I often buy unplanned items’ (% agree), women vs men, March 2018
                                                        • The time is ripe for self-gifting, fast fashion retailers take note!
                                                          • Figure 36: Planned shopping at retailer type (net any channel), women 18-24 vs overall, March 2018
                                                      • Approach to Holiday Shopping

                                                        • Some will change their typical behaviour for holiday shopping
                                                          • Figure 37: Approach to holiday shopping, March 2018
                                                        • It’s not about me, it’s about others – In their words
                                                          • To help them impress others, retailers must impress the shopper first
                                                            • Affluent consumers are keen on brand names
                                                              • Figure 38: ‘I like buying name brand products’ (% agree), those with a household income of $150,000 or higher vs overall, March 2018
                                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                            • Data sources
                                                              • Consumer survey data
                                                                • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                  • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                    • Abbreviations

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