May 12, 2004, 12:00 AM

FutureShop.ca bucks Canada`s online trend with strong sales growth

Consumer online travel sales are surging in Canada, but non-travel sales are slack at 1% year-to-year growth in the fourth quarter, comScore Networks reports. But FutureShop and others are bucking the trend with strong growth in consumer products sales.

Consumer online travel sales are surging in Canada, but non-travel sales are slack at 1% year-to-year growth in the fourth quarter, comScore Networks Inc. reports. But FutureShop and others are bucking the trend with strong growth in consumer products sales.

"Over the past year, at FutureShop.ca, we saw traffic increase by 50%, but more importantly, our sales more than doubled," said Robert Pearson, divisional merchandising manager of e-commerce for parent Best Buy Canada. "We continue to believe that Canada represents a strong growth market for online merchants with the right e-commerce strategy."

Online non-travel spending in Canada rose 1% in Q4, to $408 million from $403 million in the year-ago period, comScore says. But many of the largest retail web sites are seeing strong growth, it adds. About 60% of the largest non-travel web sites grew their Q4 sales with Canadian shoppers by more than 20% year-to-year, comScore reports.

"With 52% of the total population already online, it`s surprising that Canadians aren`t spending more online on non-travel products," said Brent Lowe-Bernie, president of comScore Media Metrix Canada. "However, sales growth at many of the largest e-commerce sites clearly indicates that merchants with the right strategy and offerings can benefit from Canadian consumers` willingness to buy online."

By comparison, Q4 online spending at travel sites rose 53% year-to-year, to $349 million from $228 million, comScore says. Travel spending accounted for 46% of Q4 consumer online sales, up from 36% a year ago.

Overall, Canadian online shoppers are spending more on Canada-based web sites than foreign-based sites, comScore says. In Q4, 63% of their online spending was on Canadian sites, compared to 37% on foreign sites. In the year-earlier quarter, that gap was closer, 54% for Canadian sites to 46% for foreign sites.

ComScore also notes that Q4 online spending by Canadian shoppers aged 18-34 rose 44% year-to-year, while Canadian broadband users, who account for 60% of all online sales, increased their online spending by 24%.

 

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