- May 28, 2020

The Coronavirus Pandemic in Canada: The Next Evolution of Media Consumption

Stephanie Parkinson
Stephanie Parkinson
Senior Director, Client Insights

This article is part of a series of insights that show a Canadian digital perspective on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer behavior.

In this follow-up to our previous blog post, we will provide an update as to how Canadians continue to engage with online content as of the week of May 4th–10th, 2020. Now entering the third month of the pandemic, Canadians have begun to show renewed interest in a few hard-hit categories, continue to find ways to connect with one another and are shifting their buying habits through digital media.


  1. Digital consumption remains high, but has seen some slight downturns in consumption in recent weeks
  2. There is renewed interest in real estate and automotive content
  3. There continues to be growth in retail, especially in particular categories such as sports/outdoors and home furnishings.
  4. News and government sites appear to have reached a peak in visitation and engagement
  5. Canadians continue to find ways to connect and celebrate while social distancing

Total Digital Population

Canadian total digital media consumption remains high. As Canadians settle into the new normal, we have seen a slowdown in the growth of digital consumption and a slight decline in the past two weeks of data (week beginning April 27th and week beginning May 4th). Total minutes are consistent, compared to a month ago, but have recently shown some small declines week over week (-4% for the week of April 20th to April 27th, and -1% for the week of April 27th to May 4th). The following sections will highlight in which content categories we have seen recent changes in consumption.

Poised for a Comeback

Real Estate, Automotive, Travel and Sports Categories

When the pandemic began, automotive, real estate, sports, and travel were some of the hardest-hit categories, as the offline world changed and online Canadians shifted their focus elsewhere. The most recent data shows a bit of a turnaround for some of these categories, with increasing levels of visitation and/or engagement. For the automotive category, heading into the spring buying season, Canadians have significantly increased the amount of time spent on automotive - manufacturer sites compared to a month ago. Likewise, real estate sites are also seeing a significant jump in both visits and time spent. For the travel and sports categories, the declines are slower than we had previously seen, and are no longer showing double-digit drops in visitation. This data suggests that the decline may have leveled off, and as more consumers begin making post-pandemic plans, visitation in both of these categories may begin to inch upward.

% Change from week starting May 4, 2020 to week starting March 30, 2020

The Online Shopper

Retail Category

Retail is an ever-changing category, as retailers consistently look to stay ahead of the latest trends, and consumers are always looking for ways to find the best deals and to get their products delivered faster. The coronavirus pandemic naturally has pushed many retailers to have a renewed focus on the online shopping experience. As retailers continue to adapt to these changing circumstances, some by offering curbside pickup or other online-to-offline methods, the online retail category has seen continuous growth in both visits and engagement. This growth continues to be notable, as online retail is already a very big category as far as raw numbers of visits and minutes spent, making any increases a significant milestone for the category.

% Change in Retail Category from week starting May 4, 2020 to week starting March 30, 2020

This growth can be seen across numerous e-commerce categories, most notably home furnishings and sports/outdoors. As the weather gets warmer, Canadians are taking advantage of the time at home to invest in home improvement projects and to prepare for outdoor summer activities.

% Change from week starting May 4, 2020 to week starting March 30, 2020

The New Normal

News/Information and Government Categories

From the onset of the pandemic, consumption of content on news and government entities steadily increased as Canadians sought updates, and information about new rules/regulations and financial support. It does appear, however, that these categories may have reached their peak, and are beginning to show some declines in repeat visitation and time spent. This same trend can be seen across all news categories, including general news, local news, and business/finance news.

Staying Connected

Social, E-Cards, Flowers/Gifts/Greetings and Shipping Categories

With social distancing measures in place and public spaces limited, Canadians are finding new ways to stay connected and to celebrate milestones (Mother’s Day, birthdays, upcoming graduations etc.). The following categories all play a part and showcase some significant increases in visitation and consumption.

% Change from week starting May 4, 2020 to week starting March 30, 2020

Coronavirus Insights

Read our ongoing updates on shifting consumption trends and the resulting impact on the advertising and media industries on comscore.com/Coronavirus.

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Coronavirus Insights