A few years ago lines at the Canada-US border crossing were a few kilometres long, for one reason: shopping. When the Canadian dollar was on par with the US dollar, Canadians were flocking to the US to find great deals, myself included. But given the volatile currency at the moment, is it still worth it to head south for shopping?
When I started doing research for this post, I genuinely thought it would be an easy answer, do or don’t. Unfortunately, I have to tell you it’s not. There were a few things I had to consider, a) sales tax, b) prices in Canada vs. US and c) exchange rates on credit cards/ exchanging money at the bank.
I checked the price of the same item on the Canadian and US website of multiple stores, including Club Monaco, J Crew, Zara and Old Navy. What I found was super interesting – the exchange rates varied so much, from 1.08 to 1.29, and this is mostly why it’s not an easy answer. The other important thing to consider is sales tax, as sales tax is 13% in Ontario, and could vary significantly in the US, but on average, is lower than Ontario.
This cute tank is $69.50 USD on the US site or $89.50 CAD on the Canadian site. Taking into consideration exchange rates, sales taxes, etc., if you purchased this in the US, it would end up being approximately $91 CAD, vs. $103 CAD in Canada (with taxes)... Making Club Monaco a spot where you should definitely cross the border to purchase! Alternatively, buying something at Zara or Old Navy would be the same in Canada or in the US.
What to do, then. Unless there is something specific that you want and can’t get in Canada, then by all means, just go for it. But seeing as though we Canadians have many of the same stores, its probably worth it to have a look on both the Canadian website and US website, and do the analysis yourself before buying.