Shopping in Canada

When you travel to different cities or countries you have to buy or rent almost everything. You can only pack and bring a certain amount of personal products, clothes and electronics. When you travel - eventually you have to purchase food, accommodation, transportation, and other products and services. This is some shopping information to help you when you travel to Canada and have to shop. There are links to additional "How to shop articles" to help you make purchase decisions when shopping in Canada.

The Canadian dollar during 2022 has floated between .72 and .82 to the US dollar. This has caused several pricing problems for shopping in Canada. Many products have been priced to reflect the traditional 25 to 30% discount to the US dollar.

Many Canadians and visitors to Canada have compared prices in Canada and the border US retailers and using US dollars saved from 15 to 25% shopping in the USA.

Some Canadian retailers have lowered their prices and it is comparable to shop in Canada or USA. For big ticket items (over $500) use the internet to compare USA and Canada prices for the same products at the same retailers to calculate which is the best location to buy.

The next major decision is to shop online or shop in person. Finally in 2022 shoppers can visit all types of shops in person. Shoppers can compare prices at "bricks and mortar" shops with online vendors. just remember to add in the cost of online deliveries to final price.

Another decision is which app to use to find the best price for your purchase. Shopping apps can save you up to 30% on many online items.

If you are a patient or strategic shopper you can wait for the annual spring sale/winter clearance or Black Friday or Cyber Monday or Boxing day to purchase large dollar items.

If you like to look at flyers, coupons, emailed discounts then you can take your time and wait for a sale price.

Understanding Prices in Canada

When shopping in Canada remember the price you see is not the final price! In Canada there are two taxes the GST (Federal Government Goods and Services Tax) and the PST (Provincial Sales Tax). The GST is the same rate all over Canada, the PST is the local rate for the province and yes they are all different.

Many provinces have recently adopted both taxes together as the "HST" Harmonized Sales Tax.

As an example if you see something like a pen in a dollar store the sticker price will show the price as 1 dollar. When you go to the clerk at the cash register and the item is "rung up on the till" the price will be the 1 dollar plus the two taxes and you will have to pay the total amount. In Ontario the Federal GST is 5 percent and the PST is 8 percent so the total price of the pen is 1.13 with the added taxes.

In Canada there are different government taxes that are added to alcohol, gasoline, tobacco, hotel rooms and other targeted consumables. Always ask what taxes are included and what taxes are added for the items you wish to purchase. This will help you avoid final price surprises.

In Canada some restaurants, bars and hotels add a service fee to the final bill. This fee can be 10, 15, 20 or 25 percent and can shock shoppers if you were unaware of this additional service fee. Always ask if there is a service fee and what is the rate.

When shopping in Canada you have to compare prices as tax in or tax out and with or without a service fee. If you want a coffee and see 2 prices ($1.25 all in from shop A) and you see a price of ($1.00 from shop B) you have to ask questions before buying your coffee.

A - $ 1.25 final price

B - $ 1.00 - plus service fee .20 plus GST .06 plus PST .09 final price $ 1.35

In Canada ask what taxes and service fees are included or added to the final price.

Buying junk to save a few dollars is not a good idea.

In Canada there are real name brand products, fake name brand products and cloned products. In Canada it is illegal to sell pirate goods however many fast-buck operators sell these goods to try and make profits from the good reputations of the legitimate high-quality name-brand products.

If you are shopping in a dark basement or buying from someone's car or a flea market - then your chances of buying the real new un-used name brand product are close to zero.

If you buy a fake product from a pirate and this product causes an allergic reaction, or falls apart or causes an accident then obviously you are to blame - you are the stupid one. Buying junk to save a few dollars is not a good idea.

Using consumer reports to evaluate products

In Canada shoppers have the opportunity of using consumer reports to evaluate products. There are many books by non-profit testing organizations that test new products every year. The books are even available free at many libraries across Canada.

In Canada there are many specialty magazines that perform their own in-house technical evaluations and conduct user surveys from their subscribers about the products for sale.

Using the product reports from the independent testing organizations and the specialty publishers can give you an extensive list of available products, average performances, user satisfaction, and some sort of product ranking for price or performance. These lists can act as your base information when you start to shop for any products in Canada.

Canada Shopping Recommendations

The initial information and services to start an overseas travel or shopping trip can be provided by travel agencies or airlines and should include health insurance and emergency services.

We suggest lots of research using publications, travel guides, travel books, traveller experiences, talk to friends who have already travelled to where you want to go, internet sources - websites, blogs and newsletters.

When planning your trip to Canada or the USA students have to consider the weather. Students may have to shop for winter clothes if they are staying in late fall or during the cold winter months.

To pre-plan your Canadian accommodation there are a wide variety of choices: homestay, homestay tutors, hostels, boarding residences, furnished Apartments, AirBnB's, hotels, flat rentals or longer term purchasing real estate.

To pre-plan your local transportation from the airport there are a variety of options and choices: taxi and limousine services, airport buses, public transportation or the ride sharing services..

For on-going local transportation there are car rentals, car leases or for longer term use - purchase a car. Many visitors buy monthly passes and use the public transportation systems to travel everywhere. You can even buy a bicycle and get around faster and cheaper in many of the cities.

For the out of town locations many students will rent a car and travel together. Most car rental agencies and car share apps will rent to students or visitors over age 23 with an international driving license. There are many student and group van and bus tour companies that offer inexpensive travel and group discounts.

To pre-plan your Canadian financial services with: travelers cheques, banking services, bank accounts with debit cards and credit cards and the many online payment systems.

To pre-plan your Canadian telephone with local phone services, long distance phone services, long distance phone cards, cell phones and landline based or wireless internet service providers. Most students or visitors with family able to use computers and internet programs can use VOIP, SKYPE, Zoom, Facetime, Messenger, Meet or WhatsApp for live video chats computer to computer.

To pre-plan your computer needs with tablets, desktops or laptop computers and mobile internet phone devices. There are basic ISP internet connection formats: dial-up or high speed DSL or fibre, and hardwire or wireless. Link to view some internet service providers.

To pre-plan your study supplies: school supplies, electronic dictionary and translator, textbooks, reading books, book stores, magazines, newspapers and online publications.

To pre-plan your meals you will need food. In Canada there are grocery stores, specialty food stores, restaurants, take out and food delivery available. You can budget your time and food and plan your meals with lots of options.

You can supplement your healthy lifestyle with personal trainers and health consultants, dieticians, exercise coaches, fitness and health clubs.

To pre-plan your Canadian shopping with locations of discount outlet malls, shopping malls, and specialty stores. There is extensive catalogue and online internet shopping, coupons and online group buying programs. If you are a student and qualify for one of the many international student discount cards there are lists of available product and service discounts.

To pre-plan your entertainment and visits with lists of tourist attractions, professional sports teams, festivals, celebrations, performing arts, dance and night clubs, radio, TV and cable, tours, cruises and study tours.

To stay longer in Canada you may want to consult with immigration services, immigration lawyers, investment in Canada entrepreneur programs, USA business immigration programs, business development program consultants, Business immigration programs, business lawyers, tax lawyers, retirement lawyers, retirement consultants, RSP, RRSP and RESP advisors.

We will publish consumer information and shopping recommendations based on site inspections, research, analysis, expert evaluations and industry comparisons.

We will establish a fair and open criteria from the consumer point of view.

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