You are now in the main content area

Shopping Study


About the Project

Dr. Kelly MacKay, alongside Dr. Tony Hernandez, Director and Eaton Chair in Retailing at the Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity and Pamela Laite, Director of Industry Relations at Tourism Toronto.undertook a study to explore the opportunities of developing shopping as a tourism attraction in Toronto.

The study examined tourist shopping patterns in Toronto via secondary analysis of Tourism Toronto’s 2011 Air Exit Survey data and 2011 Market Report. The sample size included 5133 visitors. Data was also provided by the Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity.

While conducting background research, Dr. MacKay identified shopping as a prevalent activity among tourists, contributing to the tourism bottom line.  Shopping came in second after sightseeing and it was the second highest expenditure after lodging. Hong Kong is one example of a successful tourist shopping destination, where approximately 50% of tourist spending is on retail.

Research findings outline Toronto’s tourists as mostly Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) (48%), Pleasure (28.8%) and Business (17.2%). First time visitors and visitors who were in Toronto for pleasure had a tendency to shop more. In addition, women were more likely (68%) to shop than men (56%). The top product categories purchased were clothing and souvenirs (62%). Overseas visitors spent 10 times as much as Canadians shopping in Toronto. Additionally, shoppers tended to engage in more activities and visited twice as many attractions as non-shoppers.

The results of the study will be used by Tourism Toronto in their new marketing campaign, “Shop Toronto,” in an effort to develop shopping in Toronto from an activity to an attraction. The paper was presented during the World Conference on Hospitality, Event and Tourism Research in Bangkok, Thailand, in May 2013.

About the Researcher

Dr. Kelly MacKay is Professor and Interim Associate Dean Research at the Ted Rogers School of Management.