Updated: Tue, 22 Jan 2013 07:00:11 GMT | By Talbot Boggs, The Canadian Press, thecanadianpress.com

Online use continues to rise

(Special) - Canadians are continuing to use the internet more, whether it is to shop for goods and services or manage their investments, two recent reports show.

(Special) - Canadians are continuing to use the internet more, whether it is to shop for goods and services or manage their investments, two recent reports show.

A report from the NDP Group shows that Canada's super shoppers are flocking to the internet and now are responsible for a disproportionately large share of online consumer activity.

Super shoppers - those who have made purchases in more than six categories --now represent one third of online shoppers. This group primarily is comprised of Canadians between 25 and 44 who have an average income of $88,000 a year.

"The 25-44 year old demographic is a sweet spot for internet retailers who have come to reap the rewards of a generation that is truly at home online," says Rick Brown, director of analytic solutions at the NDP Group. "The online super buyers that exist in this age bracket are drawn to how easy it is to research and compare the products they're interested in buying, but their dexterity in hunting for discounts means that they expect to find better deals on the web."

Perhaps surprisingly, men tend to spend more online than women. Males spent an average of about $371 online in the last year compared to $266 for women. Men actually expect prices online to be better than in stores and they are enjoying internet shopping because of how easy it is to compare popular products and to find what they're looking for, whereas women enjoy its convenience and the ability to buy from stores that are not easily accessible.

"Online shopping is particularly a thrill for women who have become fond of brands that are not available in Canada," Brown says. "Local retailers can combat this by making their websites as enticing as possible with attractive deals, exclusive offers, wide product varieties and a design that facilitates the browsing and check-out experiences."

Ultimately, Canadians shop online to save money, find products more easily and to gain greater access to a greater selection of items.

Another study of women online investors in Canada, the U.S. and U.K. by TD has shown that the number of women managing their investments online is increasing and they believe they are doing it successfully, either closely matching or out-performing the market.

While more than twice as many women in the U.S. and the U.K. than in Canada manage their investments online, "women investors are one of our fastest growing customer segments," says Rowena Chan, vice president of TD Waterhouse Discount Brokerage.

Of these female online investors, more than three quarters in Canada say they have consistently out-performed or performed very close to the market, consistent with women in the U.S. and the U.K.

The majority of women in all three countries said they are quite confident or level-headed about managing their portfolios, although in each country roughly 10 per cent admitted to being nervous and never feel like they're making the right decisions when it comes to their investments.

"We want women online investors to feel empowered to manage their investments online, no matter their level of financial and investing knowledge," says Chan. "There are resources to help you get started and tools and support available online and on the phone 24 hours a day seven days a week. You are investing for yourself but you don't have to do it alone - there's always resources and information available."

The majority of women said they haven't changed anything in their portfolios in reaction to recent volatility in the markets and they are confident they have a long-term plan that can weather the ups and downs.

"Try to avoid emotional reactions to what you're seeing in the markets. It's important to think long-term when the markets get rough," Chan says. "Think about the number of years you have until retirement and your risk tolerance and tailor your investment strategy accordingly."

Talbot Boggs is a Toronto-based business communications professional who has worked with national news organizations, magazines and corporations in the finance, retail, manufacturing and other industrial sectors.

Copyright 2013 Talbot Boggs

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