Canada's Condominium Magazine
More and more of us do a significant portion of our shopping online, a fact that leaves the future of traditional retail in some question—Sears, to take just one example in Canada, seems to be on the way out of the market here. But for now, especially at this time of year, shopping malls are crowded. And tomorrow, Black Friday, is one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
It’s more an American phenomenon, the “official” launch of the Christmas shopping season following Thanksgiving, but it’s been catching on on this side of the border too. A survey by the Bank of Montreal found that nearly half of Canadians (47 per cent) planned to shop tomorrow, compared to 35 per cent one year ago. This shows that Black Friday numbers are beginning to approach Boxing Day levels; 59 per cent of Canadians plan to shop on Boxing Day.
Rather than sit by and watch customers flock south, Canadian retailers have started holding their own version of the Black Friday event in an effort to compete. Whether they will be able to offer the same kind of deep discounts that US retailers offer is another question, but BMO’s chief economist Doug Porter said in a release that retailers here “are rising to the challenge of the lure of cross-border shopping.”
To do so, they have to deal with a dollar that is close to par with the US dollar, as well as with the significant gap in retail prices on the other side of the border. One strategy Canadian retailers favour is the use of rewards to lure customers: reward offers are up by a third from last year. Rewards programs, says a BMO credit card manager, are a “practical and convenient” way for shoppers to enjoy a “higher return on spending.” Many malls and retail outlets will have extended hours tomorrow, and savings run all the way up to 75 per cent (Indigo toys). All-day discounts of 40–50 per cent on all items are offered at stores like the Gap.
For die-hard cross-border shoppers and for seasonal shoppers with long lists of lot of gifts to buy for Christmas, the CAA offers tips for making the experience as hassle free as possible.
[colorbox title=”Tips for cross-border shoppers from CAA” color=”#333333″]Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready. Check your wiper blades and fluid levels. Test your battery and inspect your tires for any tears or bulges in the side wall.
Purchase travel insurance even for a short shopping trip across the border. An unexpected trip to the emergency room or a visit to the doctor’s office can be expensive and provincial health plans only cover approximately 9 per cent of medical expenses when travelling outside of Canada*. CAA offers many travel insurance plans to suit your needs.
Pack a map as a back-up to your GPS. CAA offers maps and customized TripTik route planners to help get you where you are going safely. CAA can also help you book your hotel stay.
Be prepared for delays at border crossings. Before heading out check border wait times at http://travel.gc.ca/.
Bring proper identification for yourself and any children travelling with you.
Know how much you can bring back. For 48 hours or more, you can bring back goods, tax and duty-free, worth up to $800. For 24 hours or more, you can bring back goods, tax and duty-free, worth up to $200.
Declare all purchases and have receipts ready at the border.[/colorbox]