A lot of people still like to physically hold a camera before deciding what to get.
I think that's generally true, but more applicable at the lower end of the dSLR spectrum. The consumer-aimed Rebel/xxxD series represent the vast majority of dSLR sales, and those are sold at many 'big box' stores. A person who tries-then-buys an entry level dSLR becomes a brand owner, and that makes an online upgrade to an xxD or xD more likely.
Even so, I think these new Canon stores are likely to be quite analogous to Apple Stores - their main focus is going to be point-and-shoots, camcorders, and entry-level dSLRs, much like the prominent displays of multiple iPads/iPhones/iPods and MacBooks and some iMacs...and where's the Mac Pro? Tucked away in the corner.