TORONTO -- Despite the changes and hardships the pandemic has brought this year, many Canadians are still getting into the festive spirit as the holiday season approaches. This year’s most-wanted gifts, aside from the always popular toys and electronics, show how the pandemic has changed consumers’ needs and wants.

Here’s a look at some of the most sought-after items this holiday season, based on consumer insights in large retailer surveys from Google, Amazon, Walmart Canada and the Retail Council of Canada.


There wouldn’t be a holiday without toys for most families and the pandemic has not stopped this. Aside from popular toys such as LEGO kits, dolls, and plushy toys, many Canadians are also purchasing more board and card games now that they’re spending more time at home with family. In this year’s Amazon best sellers list, almost every other item on the list is a board or card game such as Blokus, UNO, Battleship and Jenga.


With many restaurants being closed or only open for take-out, some Canadians are doing more cooking of their own. Kitchenware items have become a popular choice for gift-giving this season as people spend more time at home. A survey of more than 2,500 people across the country, done by the Retail Council of Canada (RCC), found that the most-wanted product categories that Canadians will be spending money on this year are shifting.

“Where we see a bit of an increase is in the category of kitchenware or cooking-ware and that continues to be big for the holiday season as people are living at home, working from home and studying from home and so that has also changed their priorities,” Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO of the RCC, told in an interview.


With the release of highly-anticipated video game consoles such as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, 2020 was a big year for electronics. Home speakers, laptops and tablets are also among the favourites on both Amazon's best seller list and the RCC consumer survey as many Canadians continue to work from home or take classes online.


As Canada continues to deal with a second COVID-19 wave, restrictions in many regions include the closure of gyms and recreational facilities, prompting Canadians to improvise a gym setup of their own at home. Exercise gear such as yoga mats, athletic wear and the highly favoured Peloton exercise bike have become popular this year, according to Morgan Ferris, senior director of electronics at Walmart Canada.

“Toys and electronics will continue to be important businesses for us but certainly seeing the emergence of other categories as being stronger than they traditionally have been so exercise, gym clothes, customers are looking to stay in shape at home rather than going outside,” Ferris told in a phone interview. 


Gift cards continue to be the go-to item that is well-received by most family members and friends. Some retailers also offer e-gift cards that can be sent online, a convenient option for those loved ones who are unable to visit due to the pandemic. Brisebois said gift cards have been a top choice for many of those who are worried about shipping delays when buying gifts online. According to Google’s Holiday Insights, 31 per cent of Canadians said they will be buying more gift cards this holiday season in comparison to previous years. ​


In most consumer surveys, many Canadians said they would support local businesses this season, given the challenges they have faced because of the pandemic. For Amazon Prime Day in October, small to medium businesses reported a 60 per cent increase in sales, according to the online retailer. The RCC indicated that Canadians are making an effort to support smaller businesses for not only everyday items but novelty items they can gift to friends and family members.

“In some of the comments, consumers understood that if they made the effort to support local and to look within their mainstream, they would often find items they would not find anywhere else,” Brisebois said.