Canada's Condominium Magazine

Shop the Neighbourhood, support a local business

Tomorrow is Black Friday, fast becoming the world’s busiest shopping day. A lot of Canadians will no doubt be heading to the US to snag some great bargains, though with the loonie so much lower than it was this time last year there may be less southbound traffic this year. The lure of the bargain is strong, however, and with most Canadians living within a two-hour drive of a border crossing, is it any wonder that cross-border shopping is so popular? Lower prices, greater choice, and the sheer fun of it all make a day of shopping in the US irresistible to many. Statistics Canada reports that Canadians spent $8 billion in the US in 2012, almost twice as much as in 2006. While that may sound like a lot of money (it is), to put it in perspective, it was between 1 and 2 per cent of total retail sales that year in Canada.

Now a home-grown initiative called Shop the Neighbouhood hopes to reduce that cross-border outflow of retail dollars and persuade people to shop locally instead. The initiative is sponsored by digital media and marketing company Yellow Pages and Bell Media Mix. The idea is that local retailers will give customers special deals on Shop the Neighbourhood day, giving them a reason not to go south instead. This year there are over 6,700 “exclusive” promotions on November 29 (accessible via the free YP.ca mobile app).

There are more than one million small businesses in the country, employing approximately 70 per cent of the national labour force. Supporting them, Yellow Pages says, “contributes to the sustainability, vitality and quality of our neighbourhoods.” While the majority of Canadians now research their purchases online, fewer than half of all small businesses in Canada have an online presence.  Shop the Neighbourhood is being promoted as a way for those businesses to create a digital presence through the YP app.

Last year was Shop the Neighbourhood’s first, and it was endorsed in a promotional film by all of Ontario’s main political leaders—Wynne, Horwath and Hudak—and a number of cabinet ministers, who all said on camera, in local shops and restaurants, that shopping local was great for the economy and for the neighbourhood. It may have been the only thing those political leaders ever agreed on. As to why prices are so much lower in the US in the first place, don’t expect any simple answers to that question.

Bell Media Mix has partnered with Yellow Pages this year to promote Shop the Neighbourhood. It is helping to raise awareness by featuring local businesses in radio spots on stations like CHUM FM and NEWSTALK 1010.

Participating neighbourhoods in the GTA include the Burlington Downtown Business Association and several Toronto business improvement areas: Kingsway BIA, Bloor West Village BIA, Port Credit BIA, Yonge Lawrence Village BIA and The Eglinton Way BIA.

What you don’t need to Shop the Neighbourhood (but do need to cross the border)

  • a passport
  • a permanent resident card
  • an Enhanced Drivers Licence
  • a birth certificate (sixteen years and under)

In your neighbourhood you can buy as much alcohol and tobacco as you want!

 

[colorbox title=”Personal Exemptions*” color=”#333333″]

If you do cross the border to shop, these are your personal exemption amounts on non-alcohol, non-tobacco goods.

Less than 24 Hours: $0

There is no duty free allowance for absences of less than 24 hours.

24 Hour Exemption: $200

If you are absent from Canada for more than 24 hours, you may claim up to $200 worth of goods duty free as your personal exemption. You must have the goods with you when you arrive at the border. If the total value of goods you bring back to Canada exceeds $200, you cannot claim this exemption. You will have to pay duties and taxes on the value of all goods you bring in to Canada, not just the amount that exceeds your allowance.

48 Hour Exemption: $800

If you are absent from Canada for more than 48 hours, you may claim up to $800 worth of goods duty free. You must have the goods with you when you arrive at the border. If the total value of goods you bring back to Canada exceeds $800, you will be charged a special duty rate of  7 per cent on the next $300 worth of goods above the base exemption of $800.

7 Day Exemption: $800

If you are absent from Canada for more than 7 days, you may claim up to $800 worth of goods duty free. The goods can arrive separately (except for alcohol and tobacco). If the total value of goods you bring back to Canada exceeds $800, you will have to pay regular duties and taxes on the value of goods that exceeds $800. [/colorbox]

*See more complete details at the Government of Canada.

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