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Online shopping gaining traction while spending at retail stores declines

Pedraza Gonzalez sorts packages at the FedEx hub at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in Los Angeles.

Jae C. Hong/AP

As retailers gear up for the final weekend of holiday selling – in the U.S. it's called Super Saturday – they're counting on shoppers turning out at stores despite forecasts of sleet, rain and snow in parts of Canada and tight-fisted spenders.

The tale of the 2013 holiday shopping season is playing out in the latest Canadian retail sales data: Online shopping is gaining speed while spending at bricks-and-mortar stores is slipping.

Between Dec. 3 and 16, pre-holiday spending declined by 2.06 per cent in physical stores – which represents the vast majority of total retail sales – while spending online jumped 14.54 per cent, according to Moneris Solutions Corp., Canada's largest credit and debit card processor.

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Apparel online sales picked up the most during the period – by 31.1 per cent compared with a year earlier – while in-store consumer electronic purchases dropped 13.08 per cent although online spending of those items rose 23.13 per cent in the period, the report found.

"Canadians are turning to cyber-space to make many of the purchases they used to make in traditional brick-and-mortar retail environments in the past," said Jeff Guthrie, chief sales and marketing officer at Moneris.

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