Canadian Online Sales Hit a New High

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The numbers are very good, but they could be even better.

APRIL 28, 2006 – According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, Canadian online sales recorded their fourth consecutive year of strong double-digit growth in 2005. Combined private and public sector online sales increased by 38.4% compared with 2004, to reach a total of CAD39.2 billion (US$32.4 billion).

This was the fourth year in a row that the overall value of e-commerce sales in Canada increased by 38% or more. To put this into perspective, the increase in online sales was six times the rise in overall retail sales in Canada in 2005 – and the growth in online sales stood in stark contrast to reported stagnation in the adoption of basic information and communication technologies.

Breaking that figure down, online sales by private firms increased by 37.2% to CAD36.3 billion, while those by the public sector increased 55.4% to CAD2.9 billion.

For the third consecutive year, four sectors led the way in online sales:

  • Wholesale trade

  • Retail trade

  • Transportation

  • Warehousing and manufacturing

In addition to sales, Statistics Canada found that in 2005, 82% of all private sector firms used the Internet, unchanged from the previous year, and 38% had a website, up only slightly from 37%.

This stability suggests that these basic technologies have reached at least a temporary saturation point and Canadian businesses have crossed the digital divide and now have the capability to engage in e-business activities. The question is: when will even more of them do so?

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