Canada represents strong expansion opportunity for US retailers, reports WSL/Strategic Retail; 64% of Canadians can afford to shop beyond the basics, versus 50% of Americans

Cindy Allen

Cindy Allen

Sep 14, 2012 – WSL/Strategic Retail

NEW YORK , September 14, 2012 (press release) – With fewer chains and little competition from online shopping, Canada represents a strong expansion opportunity for U.S. retailers according to WSL/Strategic Retail, the leading authority on shopping behavior and trends. The finding was revealed today, as part of the Company’s How Canada Shops® research study, which found that 64% of Canadians can still afford to shop beyond the basics - versus half of Americans, who say they cannot.

“As U.S. companies struggle with sales and profit growth in a stalled global economy, and as the Internet continues to steal share of shoppers from the stores, the opportunity to expand into Canada has become very appealing,” said Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL/Strategic Retail. “While each of the major retail categories exist, Costco is the only Club; Walmart faces off against a weak Zellers (at least until Target arrives in 2013); and The Bay and Sears are the only mid-tier Department stores. The added bonus is that few Canadians shop Amazon.”

“While there is significant opportunity, we have also found important differences in the way Canadians think and shop, versus Americans, which will require U.S. retailers to consider new strategies and approaches when entering this market,” continued Candace Corlett, President of WSL/Strategic Retail. “Interestingly, we’ve found that Canadians are less passionate about shopping, and their Internet activity is well below that of Americans.”

Less competition means less promotion

Canadian shoppers expect everyday low prices and will use coupons when available, but they don’t proactively seek them out as much as U.S. shoppers.

  • 55% of Canadian women regularly use coupons to reduce costs, whereas 68% of American women utilize coupons when shopping
  • 50% of Canadian women search the Internet for promotions versus 61% of American women shoppers
  • 57% of Canadian women pick up circulars in store versus 71% of American women
Not so digitally driven

Technology adaptation among Canadian women is significantly lower when compared to American women, especially as it pertains to online shopping.
  • 50% of Canadian women say they shop online, as opposed to 75% of American women
  • 31% of Canadian women shoppers visit retailer and manufacturer websites versus 50% of American women shoppers
  • Only 26% of Canadians are able to download apps onto their mobile phones, compared to nearly half of Americans who have that ability.
A Cautious Shopper

Although Canada did not experience the global recession as the U.S. did, they are still as cautious about spending as Americans. When they do get extra money:
  • Only 15% go shopping
  • 33% pay down credit card debt
  • 25% save or invest
Notes on Survey Methodology and Analysis

The How Canada Shops study was conducted as an online survey between May 3 - 14, 2012, among adult shoppers ages 18 - 70, with household incomes of $15,000 and above. Participants were drawn from a nationally representative panel in both Canada and the U.S.


Founded in 1986, WSL/Strategic Retail (“WSL”) is the leading authority on shopper behavior and retail trends. Through its unparalleled research, global trend analysis and customized consulting services, WSL arms retailers, manufacturers and brands with the tools required to stay ahead of the market and motivate shoppers to purchase. The Company tracks the mindset, attitude and behavior that shape shopper trends, and predicts how they transform brands and retailers throughout the U.S. For more information, visit

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