Canadian e-commerce and payments

Canada is a sophisticated and diverse e-commerce and payments market

Countries Canada

Intro Canada

Canada is a lucrative and high-spending e-commerce market. Localisation is crucial to success, particularly in the French-speaking areas. Merchants entering the market should also factor in increased carrier costs when serving remoter and rural communities.

Canada’s economy is forecast to grow by 3.9% in 2022 and 2.85 in 2023 [1]. The average Canadian earns US$43,450 a year, 27% more than the average EU citizen [2]. By the second quarter of 2022, unemployment was 5.3% [3], high by current standards in the developed world but low by recent Canadian standards.

In the first quarter of 2022, the volume of Canadian retail sales rose by 8.5% in comparison to the same time last year [4]. This trend may not hold in the face of an uncertain international and economic situation.

Canada’s e-commerce market

Canadians are less likely than their American neighbours to shop online. Only 8% of Canadian retail sales are made online, compared to 15% in the US [5]. The most popular online purchase categories are travel (27%), electrical goods (20%) and beauty products (18%) [5].

The total Canadian e-commerce market is worth $80 billion and is growing at a rate of 17% a year [5]. As well as being less likely to shop online than Americans, Canadians are also less likely to shop using a mobile device. Just 36% of online purchases were completed on a tablet or smartphone [5].

Around 30% of Canadians now do their grocery shopping online, double the figure from before lockdown [6]. Talking to eMarketer, Toronto-based retail analyst Marina Strauss predicted that the pandemic will permanently alter Canadian’s shopping habits: bad news for brick-and-mortar stores but good news for e-commerce merchants [7].

Payment methods in Canada

The Canadian market for payment methods is dominated, though not overwhelmingly, by cards. Canadians are even more fond of credit cards than Americans. 66% of all online purchases are paid for by card [5]. But that doesn’t mean that payment alternatives aren’t significant in Canada. Canadians pay for 23% of online purchase using an e-wallets, 7% by bank transfer, 1% with cash, and 3% by various other payment means [5]. Looking specifically at the card market: Visa has a 40% market share, local schemes 32%, Mastercard 25%, and American Express 1% [5].

Enabling and limiting factors in Canadian e-commerce

One hundred percent of Canadians now have a bank account [5]. High rates of inclusion hold broadly true across the social spectrum, with 99.8% bank-account penetration even among the poorest 40% of the population [8]. Where financial exclusion does exist, it mainly impacts very low-income Canadians, including poorer ethnic-minority and First Nations communities. The organisation Prosper Canada reports that only 20% of Canadians with an income of less than $20,000 have opened a tax-free savings account [9].

94% of Canadians have a fixed-line broadband connection [5]. Rates in rural areas are much lower, with 27% of rural households having access to the Internet via wireless services, but not fibre, cable, or DSL [10]. But as over 80% of the population lives in urban areas, the absolute number of rural households without a fixed connection is still small [11]. And the Canadian government has pledged to increase broadband speed to 10Mbps for wireless services and unlimited for broadband [12].

Canada ranks 20th out of 160 countries in the World Bank’s Global Logistical Performance Index [13]. Parcel numbers handled by Canada Post increased by 22% in 2020, the result of a lockdown-fuelled increased in e-commerce volumes [14].


  5. Original PPRO research.
  9. Investor Brief: Promoting Financial Inclusion in Canada’s Financial Services Sector, October 2013, Shannon Rohan, SHARE.

Page index

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Quick facts

In 2021, Canadians ordered 361 million parcels from e-commerce providers, with online shopping in the country worth more than 83 billion $US.

At the last count, 82% of Canadians shopped online at least some of the time, of whom 76% bought physical goods and 68% digital services.

Over the last three years, the proportion of Canadians doing at least some of their grocery shopping online has risen from 19% to almost 50%.

In the last three years, the number of e-commerce shops in Canada has increased by 20% and the 43% of Canadians now say they prefer digital to traditional payment methods.

General Information

  • Population 38.2 m
  • Population 15 + 32.2 m
  • Online population 37.3 m
  • Area 9,984,670 km2
  • Currency CAD
  • GDP 2,015.0 bn $US
  • GDP per capita 52,707 $US

Payment types

  • Card-based payments
  • Cash-based payments
  • Bank transfer
  • Wallets
  • Other
[{"label":"Card-based payments","value":"63"},{"label":"Cash-based payments","value":"1"},{"label":"Bank transfer","value":"7"},{"label":"Wallets","value":"22"},{"label":"Other","value":"7"}]

Banked population
  • Canada 100%
  • North America 97%
  • World 67%
Credit card penetration
  • Canada 84%
  • North America 70%
  • World 19%
Internet penetration
  • Canada 97%
  • North America 92%
  • World 62%
Smartphone penetration
  • Canada 90%
  • North America 88%
  • World 70%

The E-Commerce Market

Top e-commerce segments

Electronics & Media: 28%

  1. Fashion: 27%
  2. Toys, Hobby & DIY: 19%
  3. Furniture & Appliances: 16%
  4. Food & Personal Care: 11%

Cross-border e-commerce

  1. Cross-border proportion of total e-commerce – 15%
  2. Value of cross-border e-commerce – 12.4 bn $US
  3. Online shoppers who have shopped cross-border – 62%

Top 3 cross-border shopping origin markets

  1. US: 49%
  2. China: 32%
  3. UK: 4%
B2C e-commerce growth 20->21
  • Canada 17.0%
E-commerce % of total retail
  • Canada 14%
  • North America 16%
  • World 20%
E-commerce completed on a mobile device
  • Canada 34%
  • North America 45%
  • World 53%

E-Commerce Trends

  • E-commerce market size 83.9 bn $US
  • E-commerce spending per capita 2,194 $US
  • E-commerce spending as % of GDP 4.3%

The Credit Card Split

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
[{"label":"Visa","value":"60"},{"label":"Mastercard","value":"36"},{"label":"American Express","value":"4"}]

The information on our Insights pages has been compiled by us in cooperation with Datamatics and Wright & Brown. The data shown is partially owned by us and partially owned by GlobalData. © 2021 by PPRO Financial Ltd. No data and information can be used for any further publication without the explicit approval of PPRO.


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