The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives in many ways. Our purchasing habits, media consumption, travel plans and of course our overall lifestyle have all been impacted. The RTS survey allows us to look at all these areas across Canada and see the differences over time and by different regions and cities.

This analysis looks at the latest RTS Spring 2021 survey, which is comprised of respondent data from   January 2020 to March 2021 and compares this to the Spring 2020 survey across the regions in Canada and across broad age groups (18-34, 35-54, 55-64 & 65+)

Impact of COVID-19 on Canadians' purchasing habits.

Canadians still prefer shopping in stores to online. 60% of adults say they prefer shopping at a retail store for the customer experience and this has grown in all regions, with the exception of Atlantic Canada, and across all age groups. 32% of adults say they prefer to shop online for convenience; this is up 10% vs. Spring 2020. This has grown particularly in the Prairies (up 14%) and among teens (up 62%) and 65+ (up 30%).

Total average spending on specific retail categories shows some shifts. The largest increase in average spend is in the books & toys/games categories and the biggest drop is in the cross border shopping. 

Purchasing spend

Canadians’ intentions around big purchases have not altered that much, with 79% of adults saying they don’t intend to move in the next 2 years (up 1%), however 12% of Canadian adults say they intend to use a renovator/contractor in the next 2 years (up 9% nationally and 20% in Ontario).  The most significant increase in intentions to purchase across the different product categories is in the bicycle and bicycle equipment category. This is up 20% across Canada and up 20% in the Prairies.


Impact of COVID-19 on Canadians' leisure activities.

When looking at the local attractions that Canadians have visited once or more over the past year, art galleries, museums, exhibitions, video arcades & zoos have all decreased significantly whereas visits to national or provincial parks have increased in Quebec and the Prairies.

Canadians’ sporting and leisure activities have shifted slightly too. Reading stays top of the list but home exercise rises 18% vs last year to become the joint 2nd highest activity along with gardening.

Top sporting/leisure activities (Total Canada % 12+ participated in the past year)

Sport 2021

The results from the Spring 2021 RTS survey suggest that restaurant visits are less frequent. 72% of adults say they have visited a restaurant/bar in the past year (down 11%) yet when asked if they’d visited in the past month this fell to 41% (a drop of 40% vs last year). Unsurprisingly, it’s the method of ordering food which has changed the most with take-out up 7%, home delivery up 11% and online restaurant delivery services up 44% nationwide (and 75% in BC).


How has COVID-19 influenced Canadian's media consumption?

The Spring 2021 RTS survey indicates that 71% of Canadian’s aged 12+ have a paid media subscription (up 11% vs last year). Netflix is still the most watched of these services. 72% of Canadian’s 12+ have watched in the past week (up 9% in the last year). Amazon Prime has seen the largest growth year on year with 29% watching in the past week (33% in Ontario) compared to 15% last year.

The self-reported hours of internet use have risen 17% in the Spring survey with largest increases seen amongst teens (up 50% to an average of almost 44 hours per week) and the 65+ age group (up 22% to 16 hours per week)

There have been a few shifts in reported internet activities too.

Internet activities Spring 2021

34% of Canadians aged 12+ agree that staying connected via social media is very important to them (rising to 55% among 12-17 age group). Facebook remains the most popular platform with just under half of Canadian’s 12+ using it in the past 7 days. 28% of this group say they have used Instagram in the last 7 days, an increase of 12%. There has been increased Instagram use across all age groups but adults aged 65+ saw the largest growth (33% compared to last year).

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For more information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on TV and radio audience data see our in-depth blog posts:

Posted by Jo Loup

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