Shopping Discussion

strategies for shopping with our weaker CDN dollar?

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  • Oct 14th, 2018 9:59 am
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Nov 7, 2013
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strategies for shopping with our weaker CDN dollar?

curious as to how you are approaching US/INTL shopping given our currency.

i've been eyeing some electronics from non-Canadian retailers for the past few weeks, but the dollar seems to be doing worse rather than better in that time. should have pulled the trigger when it was 78 cents US, now looks like it could fall below 76 cents in the coming weeks; plus i need to factor in import and brokerage, of course.

do you typically wait for a "better time" or just buy regardless of the shape of our dollar?

and do you have a "zone" or certain threshold in which you buy?
14 replies
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
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AMRadio wrote:
Oct 12th, 2018 3:43 pm
do you typically wait for a "better time" or just buy regardless of the shape of our dollar?

and do you have a "zone" or certain threshold in which you buy?
If you need it, buy it. I travel to the US a few times a year for work and I buy what I need then. Regardless of what the dollar is at.

I don't have a zone for when to buy, I buy if I need it. But if the delta is small, I rather just buy it in Canada. There are a lot of stuff in the US that's the same price as Canada. The only real savings is the tax.
Sr. Member
Feb 11, 2018
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AMRadio wrote:
Oct 12th, 2018 3:43 pm
curious as to how you are approaching US/INTL shopping given our currency.

i've been eyeing some electronics from non-Canadian retailers for the past few weeks, but the dollar seems to be doing worse rather than better in that time. should have pulled the trigger when it was 78 cents US, now looks like it could fall below 76 cents in the coming weeks; plus i need to factor in import and brokerage, of course.

do you typically wait for a "better time" or just buy regardless of the shape of our dollar?

and do you have a "zone" or certain threshold in which you buy?
A 2% difference shouldn't matter, unless you are buying an expensive car. Keep in mind about warranty issues. I buy in the US when it is cheaper than buying in Canada (all costs included). I bought US$ some time ago when the exchange rate was better than now. Also some products are simply not available in Canada, so costs doesn't matter. In regards to food; taste can be different and worth whatever it costs. Money isn't everything :)
Paying less is only half the equation. The other half is buying less... ;)
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Feb 7, 2017
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Agree with the others

We shop USA cause of either ... PRICE or AVAILABILITY / SELECTION

PRICE it’s gotta make sense... real Dollars & Cents
What’s it cost in American Dollars ?
What’s that equivalent in Cdn Dollars ?
And how much is it here in Canada to buy the same / similar ?
YOU GOT TO KNOW CDN PRICES
If it’s a true deal... then we buy

AVAILABILITY / SELECTION
Lots of stuff stateside we just don’t get / see in Canada
I still do the PRICE Math to calculate cost
But these buys are far more emotional
Sometimes ya just buy cuz YA WAAAANT IT (now)

There is also a go to list of US Goods that we buy regularly in the USA
Like food stuffs that are not available here
Never go to the USA without a visit to a Grocery Store / Booze Run

Online Shopping is nice
But Cross Border Shopping is still is where it’s at in regards to value
Cause of the 24+ Hour = $ 200 CDN, and
48+ Hour = $ 800 CDN Personal Exemptions

Also, I have not checked in with my buddies at Customs yet
But if I am not mistaken...
The USMCA Limits won’t go into effect immediately “on the line”
As the agreement has to be ratified by each countries Govt
Look for that happening sometime in 2019

AND those crazy USMCA Limits of $ 40 / $ 150 CDN
Will ONLY APPLY if you use a Courier / Shipper
So there’s that added cost as well
AND Shipping Costs are part of that $ 40 / $ 150 Calculation
Stupid Couriers can charge $ 20 to ship a parcel... so there goes the $ 20 gain on the increase to $ 40
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AMRadio wrote:
Oct 12th, 2018 3:43 pm
i've been eyeing some electronics from non-Canadian retailers for the past few weeks, but the dollar seems to be doing worse rather than better in that time. should have pulled the trigger when it was 78 cents US, now looks like it could fall below 76 cents in the coming weeks; plus i need to factor in import and brokerage, of course.
So the loonie has taken a 2¢ dive recently. That's $20 on every $1,000 of merchandise. If that's enough to tilt the decision to buy in Canada then the US price wasn't competitive in the first place.

The CAD/USD rate fluctuates all the time. The CAD has been as low as ~$0.60 and as high as ~$1.00 in the past couple of decades. That's meaningful. That can easily sway a decision. But a 2% change is trivial that should have no effect on a purchasing decision.

Also, since you're looking at electronics, consider the need to return the merchandise or have it repaired under warranty. The cost and hassle of returning stuff to the US can be significant. Also some manufacturers won't honour a US warranty in Canada so you have to send it back to the US or pay for repairs out of pocket. If this is important to you then you'll need a lot more than 2% price differential to make buying in the US worthwhile. IMO even a 20% difference may not be worth it if you can't easily return DOA merchandise or get warranty service for it.
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Deal Guru
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PointsHubby wrote:
Oct 12th, 2018 9:18 pm
Online Shopping is nice
But Cross Border Shopping is still is where it’s at in regards to value
Cause of the 24+ Hour = $ 200 CDN, and
48+ Hour = $ 800 CDN Personal Exemptions
Agreed, but generally only if you live near the border or are in the US for other reasons. Otherwise if you factor in the cost of travel (gas, food, overnight accommodation, etc.) it's not worth it.

However if you're in the US already then it definitely makes sense to use as much of the CA$800 exemption as you can--providing you need the stuff and the price differential is great enough.

Also keep in mind that sales taxes in the US are much lower than Canada's HST. Some states have no sales tax and some others don't tax things like clothing. That's another potential up-to-15% savings.
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AMRadio wrote:
Oct 12th, 2018 3:43 pm
curious as to how you are approaching US/INTL shopping given our currency.
I shop 25% less.
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Deal Fanatic
Oct 26, 2008
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PointsHubby wrote:
Oct 12th, 2018 9:18 pm

AND those crazy USMCA Limits of $ 40 / $ 150 CDN
Will ONLY APPLY if you use a Courier / Shipper
So there’s that added cost as well
AND Shipping Costs are part of that $ 40 / $ 150 Calculation
Stupid Couriers can charge $ 20 to ship a parcel... so there goes the $ 20 gain on the increase to $ 40
Not sure if you are saying that shipping costs will be included as part of an imported item's value for tax and duty with couriers only once USMCA kicks in.

On paper, the language has always been there. The following link from FedEx explains the CIF method of valuation - yes, not only shipping but insurance as well.
http://www.fedex.com/ca_english/service ... estax.html

The concept presumably is that when you buy the same item in a Canadian store the retailer or distributor has included their shipping costs in the selling price of the item.

(I haven't received a courier shipment from the US for ages so I don't know if UPS and FedEx do this sometimes.

And given that their typical shipping cost for something worthwhile is going to be well above $20 from the States that would more than negate the gain from USMCA if this is a new wrinkle.)

The idea is when you import something yourself the playing field should be level when arriving at an item's value for tax and duty..

However - this doesn't take into account the relative difference in shipping cost for one of an item compared to it being part of a store load shipment.

So in Canada we have a whole load of Memoranda and Interpretation Bulletins for customs officers. Most of whom are too busy to get into that - certainly at land crossings.

Memorandum D13-3-3 is part of it for anyone interested.
https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publication ... 3-eng.html
Jr. Member
Oct 16, 2011
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Can’t believe how trash the USMCA is for us in terms of online shopping.

Pretty much guaranteed to pay taxes on everything.

A lot of places only ship with USPS which means Canada Post.

Not to mention their $10 handling fee that often surpasses the actual amount of taxes you pay... basically the Canada Post tax.
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Feb 7, 2017
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macnut wrote:
Oct 13th, 2018 4:15 pm
Not sure if you are saying that shipping costs will be included as part of an imported item's value for tax and duty with couriers only once USMCA kicks in.

On paper, the language has always been there. The following link from FedEx explains the CIF method of valuation - yes, not only shipping but insurance as well.
http://www.fedex.com/ca_english/service ... estax.html

The concept presumably is that when you buy the same item in a Canadian store the retailer or distributor has included their shipping costs in the selling price of the item.

(I haven't received a courier shipment from the US for ages so I don't know if UPS and FedEx do this sometimes.

And given that their typical shipping cost for something worthwhile is going to be well above $20 from the States that would more than negate the gain from USMCA if this is a new wrinkle.)

The idea is when you import something yourself the playing field should be level when arriving at an item's value for tax and duty..

However - this doesn't take into account the relative difference in shipping cost for one of an item compared to it being part of a store load shipment.

So in Canada we have a whole load of Memoranda and Interpretation Bulletins for customs officers. Most of whom are too busy to get into that - certainly at land crossings.

Memorandum D13-3-3 is part of it for anyone interested.
https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publication ... 3-eng.html
You are correct (good post).

It was you who used the word ONLY ... not I

Guess you have not been following any of my posts on the USMCA ... i’ve been breaking it down, as I used to work at Customs, and was there when NAFTA was negotiated / took effect

So i’ve Seen this dog & pony show before
.
.
.
Agree that CBSA Officers have enough to deal with at land crossings, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t familiar with the regulations & how to apply them... especially when one is sent onto Secondary.

But in reality the changes under USMCA don’t effect Travellers / Cross Border Shoppers... just folks shopping on line

And the section at CBSA who deal with Couriers & Canada Post will be well versed in how to apply the rules. In effect this little move is going to be a money maker for the Couriers, Brokers & to some extent the Cdn Govt as folks may move some of their online shopping on smaller pkgs in the $ 0 to $ 40 range (& up to $ 150 CDN) to Couriers from Canada Post

We will have to wait & see how it all plays out over time
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PointsHubby wrote:
Oct 14th, 2018 6:54 am
In effect this little move is going to be a money maker for the Couriers, Brokers & to some extent the Cdn Govt as folks may move some of their online shopping on smaller pkgs in the $ 0 to $ 40 range (& up to $ 150 CDN) to Couriers from Canada Post

We will have to wait & see how it all plays out over time
These thresholds are only the minimums under USMCA, We can only hope that the current government before the upcoming election, or the next government, increases the minimums in order to garner votes from the public. I'm not highly optimistic, but the USMCA thresholds still mean that CBSA and CPC would lose money if they processed every package above the threshold and charged duty/HST as applicable. Even at $10 a pop I doubt this is a money-maker for CPC. Never mind the even larger backlogs at the border and even longer processing times if their current discretion to let many/most packages valued at under $100 go through without charge was tightened up to USMCA levels.

OTOH those US retailers who preclear and charge duty/HST at checkout will presumably welcome the continued low thresholds since their smaller competitors won't be able to afford the cost of pre-clearance. One example of this is LL Bean who recently upgraded their US website to show Canadians CA$ prices, including all duty/HST, for each product. (In the past you'd only see this at checkout.) Obviously they see opportunities in investing resources to target the Canadian market.
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bylo wrote:
Oct 14th, 2018 8:34 am
These thresholds are only the minimums under USMCA, We can only hope that the current government before the upcoming election, or the next government, increases the minimums in order to garner votes from the public. I'm not highly optimistic, but the USMCA thresholds still mean that CBSA and CPC would lose money if they processed every package above the threshold and charged duty/HST as applicable. Even at $10 a pop I doubt this is a money-maker for CPC. Never mind the even larger backlogs at the border and even longer processing times if their current discretion to let many/most packages valued at under $100 go through without charge was tightened up to USMCA levels.

OTOH those US retailers who preclear and charge duty/HST at checkout will presumably welcome the continued low thresholds since their smaller competitors won't be able to afford the cost of pre-clearance. One example of this is LL Bean who recently upgraded their US website to show Canadians CA$ prices, including all duty/HST, for each product. (In the past you'd only see this at checkout.) Obviously they see opportunities in investing resources to target the Canadian market.
Another good post... and worthwhile discussion

IMO if the Govt was going to raise Exemption Levels they would have done it already.
Reason being, they would have raised the OLD $ 20 CDN Tax Free Online Shopping limit higher than the newly negotiated $ 40 CDN Under USMCA
I was thinking OPTIMISTICALLY that during the negotiations we’d see them go to somewhere at the $ 50 to $ 100 CDN Mark
But to do so...
They probably would have also raised the Travellers Personal Exemption for 24 Hours or less up to the same amount
But they did not
Could it happen now... possibly. But I think not.

So this tells me that what they’ve done with the USMCA Agreement was just to make the appearance of a concession to the USA, so in the bigger picture (a list of changes) it counts as one more thing
From a US Perspective, it’s good for US Online Biz & Shipping
From a Cdn Perspective, it keeps the Retailers happy in that they’ll say “Well it could have been a lot worse... and effectively this represents little change / gain to the Average Joe... so Biz as usual for us”

Will it be any sort of a Money Maker for Canada ?

Only time will tell. But it if alleviates any of the bottle Neck at CBSA / Canada Post... then ya, long term in a sense of managing resources yes there could be a significant gain here
(The cost of providing services to the income stream that comes from that provided service)

The Cdn Consumer has a choice to make (actually same choice as before) ...
Do they go with USPS / Canada Post, and pay less but wait longer
Or do they go with a Courier, and pay more but see their items sooner
The OLD $ 20 vs NEW $ 40 Limits are pretty much a wash... but some may find the NEW $ 40 to $ 150 CDN Duty Free to be a sweet spot
So that $ 130 CDN increase... could be the real key to this whole clause... as it could pull more pkgs out of the Canada Post stream

As for LL Bean...
Ya I too saw that. Actually got an email from LL Bean telling me about it
Will definitely up their Cdn Game

I have since heard 2 rumours...

This is part of LL Beans long term expansion plan to increase their presence in Canada
Stage 1, is to create a Cdn Warehouse... I did a bit of googling, but had no luck finding out if this has already happened yet (to tie into the .ca Cdn Website) or if it’s just “in the works”
And most importantly... secondly, LL Bean is seriously looking at opening some stores in Canada
LL Bean has been rigourously expanding their presence outside of New England of late ... quite successfully into the mid west
And as a North Country Retailer... Canada has always been on their radar
Would be awesome if this last rumour comes true

Little known fact... LL Bean has a HUGE presence now in Japan, with 25 Stores
So coming to Canada by contrast could be almost a done deal
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PointsHubby wrote:
Oct 14th, 2018 9:23 am
Little known fact... LL Bean has a HUGE presence now in Japan, with 25 Stores
So coming to Canada by contrast could be almost a done deal
One impediment to coming to Canada is that many/most of us are deal-seekers who want low, low prices even if that means low, low quality. LL Bean caters to a more affluent market who not only can afford to pay more but appreciate the higher quality and better service they get. Are there enough of them in Canada to make a physical presence here viable? I'm not convinced. Perhaps a warehouse. But retail stores, especially when everyone else seems to be closing B&Ms?

OTOH Japanese consumers are well-known to be sticklers for high quality merchandise regardless of price. That seems an ideal culture for LL Bean to market to. Same with northern Europe.
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bylo wrote:
Oct 14th, 2018 9:41 am
One impediment to coming to Canada is that many/most of us are deal-seekers who want low, low prices even if that means low, low quality. LL Bean caters to a more affluent market who not only can afford to pay more but appreciate the higher quality and better service they get. Are there enough of them in Canada to make a physical presence here viable? I'm not convinced. Perhaps a warehouse. But retail stores, especially when everyone else seems to be closing B&Ms?

OTOH Japanese consumers are well-known to be sticklers for high quality merchandise regardless of price. That seems an ideal culture for LL Bean to market to. Same with northern Europe.
There is definitely a grouping of Cdn Consumers who look to high quality merchandise
LL Bean is clearly not in the Walmart category
The higher end sector for B&M Stores is actually expanding
Think the likes of ... Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Williams & Sonoma
There’s definitely a niche there for LL Bean who already has a good sized customer base in Canada
(And the .ca website will expand that base)
Plus LL Bean is not crazy expensive... it’s more quality than designer goods
Definitely a spot for it in Canada (think Eddie Bauer, which is here, successful & similar)
My guess is Montreal - Ottawa - Toronto - Edmonton - and Vancouver as early starters
And if they add Outlets to the mix... Montreal - Niagara - and one in BC

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