The recession is driving more Canadian consumers to shop online, comparing prices and features, but more often than not they are still going into the store to buy.

More Canadian merchants, from women’s chain Reitman’s to yoga wear specialist Lululemon, are finally opening their first online stores, despite the economic downturn. Younger consumers expect it and U.S. competitors are raising the bar, retailers said.

Even Canadian Tire, which stopped selling products online earlier this year, continues to operate a site where customers can check out its products before making a purchase. Early Internet adopters, including Best Buy and Future Shop, are plunging ahead with social media such as Twitter and Facebook on their websites.

“Canadians are online. They’re researching often, and what’s most interesting is they’re researching earlier,” Google Canada spokeswoman Wendy Rozeluk said. “Where we might have seen searches for patio furniture in the spring, this year we were seeing them in February. Because of the economic uncertainty, people are trying to be much more leery, figuring out where they can get the best deals.”