Why Are Canadians Hesitant to Buy Online?

For most people buying anything online used to be a daunting ordeal. Whether you are looking for the perfect briefcase or that trendy gold plated ring, shopping online can be very frightening for the novice. Although most Americans and Europeans especially the Orientals are very comfortable shopping online I found that most Canadians are still hesitant to do their shopping online. They tend to not trust this system of modern day shopping. Even though this is slowly changing for the better as they get more and more comfortable with the growing trends I believe that it will take perseverance on the part of Canadian online businesses to reach their Canadian customers.


The First reason I suppose is the fact that the population of Canada is roughly only 32 million. The United States of America has 307,222,000. According to the 2005 Canadian census the population of Quebec was 7,560,592 with newcomers arriving monthly. A province such as Quebec with its mother tongue being French it is estimated close to 82%. We need to also consider all of the other provinces who have French speaking citizens and we need to factor this in as well. English is the universal language especially when it comes to business.

The percentage of French being what it is, it would only stand to reason that with so few French online businesses it is not that they are reluctant to shop online, but simply that their options are maybe limited. I have to point out that there are simply not that many Canadian consumer product companies selling online.

Most online businesses are in English and according to e-commerce statistics for 2004, English accounted for 35.2% for online language while only 4.2% accounted for French online language. It is estimated that online sales account for only 2% of sales in Canada while 6% accounts for sales in the United States. I am certain that these numbers go up every year, but to what extent I am not convinced.

Another reason I found was that it only took 38 years for the telephone and only 13 years for television to reach 50 million users. The use of the internet took only 4 years to reach 50 million users making it the fastest growing technology the world had ever seen. All this being said it is interesting that many Canadians are still a little afraid to take the plunge and buy online such things as: music boxes, evening purses or even mans accessories. Long distance shopping was not common for Canadians in the 60’s and 70’s while the Europeans and the United States are used to this type of shopping making it comfortable for them to shop online.

My final reason is that per capita, Americans were getting more credit cards with higher limits than their Canadian counterparts. With the economic situation of today I believe this to be another important factor to consider. Let’s not forget that “Fears about Fraud and Identify Theft” remains the biggest barrier for shopping online. Most online merchants have very secure sites since they also need to protect not only their customers but their own business as well.