Net-savvy Edmontonians are cutting out the middle-men, stacking the aisles of the virtual marketplace, and cashing in like never before.

A recent Statistics Canada study ranked Edmontonians as one of the most active groups of Internet users in the country.

According to the study, 78 per cent of Edmontonians take regular trips on the information superhighway for social networking, info seeking and commerce.

The advent of online shopping is perpetually evolving the Edmonton market for both buyers and sellers, local Net-affected proprietors say.

In the past decade, commission-free realty has exploded in Edmonton, ComFree spokesman Travis Holowach said. Since the company’s inception in 2002, for-sale-by-owner success stories have multiplied by almost 6,000 per cent.

“The more well known that ebay and Kijiji became, it all lent well to us,” he said.

“As a whole, we all became stronger because people went online to do their buying.”

He added in an era of recession-garnished spending habits, consumers have been forced to become thrifty.

“When you can search online, you’re saving yourself time. Time is money these days.”

While consumers save cash on buying and selling direct online, traditional local merchants are feeling the penny pinch at the tills.

Fifteen-year record sales vet David Gawdunyk says straying from the Top 40 market has been the Megatunes’ saving grace, as more mature buyers are often opting for traditional CDs.

“Though it would be impossible to say the Internet hasn’t affected our business,” he said. “ … I hear younger people in the store say they’ll just download songs.”

Both agree online commerce is booming in Edmonton, and retailers will have to adapt.

“People are finding it’s not such a mystery to sell on their own anymore,” Holowach said.

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