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Thread: Is cross-border shopping still beneficial?

  1. #1
    Luv Saving People Money MortgageQueen's Avatar
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    ​What do you think Smart Canuckers? . . .

    Is cross-border shopping still beneficial?

    Many Canadians regard cross-border shopping as a great way to save money. In June 2012, the federal government increased cross-border duty exemptions when you stay at least 24 hours, making the prospects even more appealing. Still, other factors, including gas prices and U.S. retailers like Target entering Canada, have left many of us questioning whether trips south of the border are worth it.

    Shopping information website .com recommends doing research first. In addition to the expected costs like gas, travel time, accommodations and currency conversion, shoppers should research things like store return policies and the validity of manufacturer warranties in Canada.

    Ran Ravitz, the general manager of .com explains that there are certain shopping categories, like clothing, where U.S. retailers continue to have an edge in price and product selection. Ravitz has seen signs of the price gap closing, however. "Some big players are starting to get the message. Apple has priced its major product lines the same in both the U.S. and Canada. Google has also equalized prices for its latest Nexus 7 Tablet."

    What about this holiday season? Ravitz thinks that if you're already an avid cross-border shopper, then you may still be inclined to go. However, Canadian retailers are starting to catch up, he said, and with all the tools of online bargain hunting at your disposal you certainly don't have to go south of the border for good deals.
    This thread is currently associated with: Apple, Gap, Shoppers Drug Mart, Target


  2. #2
    Smart Canuck
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    From my point of view, a lot of things are still better priced in the US, even though we have Walmart and Target here. Recent purchases of mine: Walmart brand of mouthwash I like is $2.50 a bottle state-side, while here it's more than $5. Four sticks of butter (one pound) were $2.50, when they are close to $6. A 28 oz can of pure pumpkin: $1.69 there, $3.99 here. Snapple and gallon size bottles of Arizona diet tea, we can't get here at all. On my last vacation, I discovered Kohls, who carries plus-size clothing at reasonable prices. From what I paid for one top for work, I bought 5 over there. Like every thing else, it's best if you know your prices.

    There's one caveat: I haven't looked at the cost of gas and the bridge crossing (in my area), so the savings might not be that high, but for us, we see a cross-broder shopping trip as leisure. I'm sure if I planned better and went with a list, I'm confident it would still be worth it.
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  3. #3
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    I'm not a cross-border shopper. I don't think it is worth it. Cost of gas, wear and tear on vehicle, time to get there, cost of maintaining a passport (if that is main reason for one), cost of meals while on trip, cost of overnight accomodation (need to stay at least 24 hours for anything to legally be duty-free), risk/stress and potential cost of getting caught at border with goods that were not declared (if one chooses to go that route)... These are some of the more obvious costs.

    Less obvious costs:
    - the extra money that is spent because you are "on a shopping trip" and "there are good deals". There more you shop (in person, or on-line), the more you buy, which means the more you spend. And ultimately, most of the purchases are wants, not needs.

    - impact on Canadian economy, impact on local economy. The more we purchase elsewhere, the less our money stays within our ecomony. And the more it affects jobs in the affected sectors. True, retail jobs are not high paying jobs. However, students need those jobs to save for post-secondary education and other things and to learn how to manage money. People that only want/have time to work part-time need those jobs. People just starting out and needing to get job experience need those jobs. Having those jobs available here helps those around us. Do we want to keep feeding the US economy instead of our own? The manufacturing industry has already left Canada and the US in order to provide us with cheaper goods. Do we want to lose retail opportunities too? And remember, each person that works in that sector is also a consumer. If less people work in any sector in Canada, even the retail sector, there is less money in the pockets of the individuals not working, and so they have less money to spend in our own economy, and people spend in a variety of sectors, so it doesn't ultimately only affect the retail sector.

    Beyond all of that, for most things, while the regular prices are higher in Canada, I don't buy most things at regular price. By carefully shopping sales, I pay much lower prices, many of which are similar to the prices in the US. I can plan my shopping locally to take advantage of great sales. If I were cross-border shopping I would not be able to, not without it being a weekly thing, which would push the costs up to a point to negate savings.
    Last edited by super807; Mon, Nov 4th, 2013 at 11:31 AM.
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  4. #4
    tightwad and proud of it! brunt's Avatar
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    The US version of Amazon has considerably more items than the Canadian version, and typically at much lower prices.

    Many US sellers on eBay won't ship to Canada, and if they do, Customs Canada takes forever to clear, really mishandles the packages, and overtaxes the packages. We had one package opened, up, and we were assessed taxes on an arbitrary selling price (when the actual receipt was in the box), resulting in taxes that were considerably higher than the actual price paid for the item.

    I also don't have much sympathy for the stores saying that we should be shopping locally to help their businesses. Look at the stock of these businesses - do they shop locally? Some may, but the huge majority do not. It's generally a case of "do as I say, not as I do" there.

    As far as whether or not it is "worth it" depends on a number of factors - how close you are to the border, how much you buy, and of what. For us, it works out really quite well, plus we are able to buy things that simply aren't available readily in Canada.
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  5. #5
    Bean bun going offline Ciel's Avatar
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    Knowing that US store chains have opened up shop here and seeing some of the goodies found in the US stores and online are not here in Canada have me somewhat fuming. While I may not be a crossborder shopper, I will seriously consider doing some US mail orders to a US postal box when money allows.
    I don't like the idea of a known brand not bringing the merchandise to Canada. Why else open up here if it's just to sell a diluted version of what's sold stateside?
    MortgageQueen likes this.
    2021-Bring on the sunshine, sweets & online shopping.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by super807 View Post
    cost of overnight accomodation (need to stay at least 24 hours for anything to legally be duty-free),
    True, there's no exemption on same-day shopping trips, but paying the GST/HST tax on merchandise is still cheaper than paying for accommodation for one night to get the $200 duty exemption in staying 24 hours. We're talking of paying $30 in taxes here. In 9 out of 10 trips, the border agents can't be bothered to collect such a small amount.

    Quote Originally Posted by super807 View Post
    Less obvious costs:
    - the extra money that is spent because you are "on a shopping trip" and "there are good deals". There more you shop (in person, or on-line), the more you buy, which means the more you spend. And ultimately, most of the purchases are wants, not needs.
    I'm not seeing how that is different than spotting a good deal at a local store or mall and taking advantage of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by super807 View Post
    Beyond all of that, for most things, while the regular prices are higher in Canada, I don't buy most things at regular price. By carefully shopping sales, I pay much lower prices, many of which are similar to the prices in the US. I can plan my shopping locally to take advantage of great sales. If I were cross-border shopping I would not be able to, not without it being a weekly thing, which would push the costs up to a point to negate savings.
    Just like you plan your local shopping to take advantage of great sales, the same planning can be true for taking advantage of great deals in the US. True, some groceries cost the same in the US and Canada, but many items are cheaper. Clothing is always cheaper in the US. Just last month, I bought myself a pair of shoes for $80 that I normally pay $150 at my local shoe store. Like Brunt said, why should I leave $70 in my local economy for a pair of shoes that are manufactured in China?
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  7. #7
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    I cross the border at least once a month to go shopping. It's totally worth it. It costs me $18 in gas to get there and back but I save $20 on a tank of gas filling up down there so all my other savings are purely savings. I go mostly to stock up on groceries and some clothes if the sales are good. Milk, cheese and books are always half price compared to Canada which is a huge savings throughout the year. Like blueeyetea says 9 times out of 10 it's not worth it for the border guard to collect duty on such a small amount. Depending on the groceries most are duty free anyways.
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    For me, shopping across the border is totally worth it. We get items that we can't get in Canada - we have sort of like a po box near the border that allows us to order online and we pick stuff up every couple of months. We do also hit up target (as they have better stuff and prices in the US) and sometimes the outlet mall. Yes, it might not always be cheaper when you factor in gas, duty, wear on the car, etc. But, it usually is as I always go down armed with coupons and a list of what's on sale.

  9. #9
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    We live in a small town which is 45-60 min from and real grocery store(unless you want to pay 6-7.00 for a 4L jog of milk at the corner grocery store) So for DH and I to travel 75 min to the nearest US city centre is worth it for us. We go once a month and buy our groceries for the month. We have to travel anyways to find grocery stores like walmart of Superstore so mind as well make a day trip out of it. But you still have to know your prices. I am an avid couponer and at a co-op in a town 40 min from here has double coupon day every monday. Shop by sales....And gas is so much cheaper anyways, if you think about it, the gas we pump in the US more than likely came from Canada to begin with
    MortgageQueen and blueeyetea like this.

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