VANCOUVER -- This Cyber Monday is expected to break records, and Black Friday already has. But gone are the long lines and rioting customers of yester-year. In 2020, it’s all about shopping online and shopping local.

“We’re witnessing something pretty seismic,” says Lynsey Thornton, the managing director at Shopify. “It’s one of the biggest e-commerce events that has ever happened, and certainly, in our history, it is by far the most important event that we’ve ever seen.”

Shopify saw $2.4 billion go through their platform on Friday alone. 

“We’d crossed $1 billion by 8 a.m. eastern time,” Thornton says. “That’s before most people in Canada had even had breakfast. So the numbers are huge this year.” 

Just how huge has yet to be seen. But Shopify's online sales on Black Friday were up 75 per cent over 2019. That came at the expense of in-person shopping - in-store sales were down as much as 50 per cent in the U.S., according to Digital Commerce 360. 

And Cyber Monday is expected to break records too. Google Canada predicts e-commerce will end up doubling this year, and Shopify’s numbers point to a similar conclusion.

“Everything that we’ve seen so far this weekend and this month suggests that this is going to be a historic weekend for retailers in one of the hardest years they’ve ever experienced,” Thornton says. 

That’s a big help for the local businesses that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic, like Parade Organics in Gastown. 

“It’s been a very, very difficult year in so many ways,” says co-owner Bern Tierney. “Regular shop retail sales dropped off dramatically. Now, we’d be lucky to have one or two people come in every day.”

But he says online sales have been way up. 

“The shops would not have survived without that. Our store in Gastown we’re really running as a dispatch, and not as a shop anymore. It’s really been our saviour.” 

Thornton says Canadians are shopping local more than ever, and with a purpose. 

“People want to see their local businesses survive and be around this time next year, and they’re making very active choices to see that happen,” she says.