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August 24, 2021

What's the most infuriating part of cross-border shopping?

These days, Canadian shoppers have their cardigans and chinos in a bunch.

3355521-3355521-shopping-bags Yes, now that U.S. retailer J. Crew has opened its first Canadian store and – gasp! – it’s charging more than it does in its U.S. locations, consumers north of the border are pissed.

But all preppy needling aside, the J. Crew kerfuffle is just the latest in a long line of injustices against the Canadian cross-border shopper.

That would be the cross-border shopper that, compared to his American counterpart, continues to get royally screwed.

Certainly, in the “Buy Canadian” era (or, wait, is that over already?), it’s tough to drum up sympathy for the Canuck shopper that flees to spend money in the U.S.

*Bing: What cross-border malls offer the best deals for Canadians?

Though let’s cut a little slack where it’s due. Almost across the board, the Canadian cross-border shopper is given the short end.


1) Legally, Canadians can bring back zero dollars of U.S. merchandise if they’ve been abroad for less than 24 hours. Right now, there’s a bill before Congress that would allow Americans to bring back $1,000 worth of Canadian merchandise, duty-free, after just a few hours of cross-border shopping.
2) Even after 24 hours, Canadians can only immediately bring home $50 worth of goods.
3) The maximum exemption for Canadian cross-border shoppers (a puny $750 worth of merchandise after a weeklong stay in the U.S.) hasn’t changed in more than 15 years.
4) U.S. retailers operating in Canada can gouge local shoppers. “There are two reasons prices are higher in Canada,” Ambarish Chandra of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management told the Star. “It is more expensive. Retailers here have to pay higher taxes and have somewhat higher costs. But a larger part of it is because they can get away with it.”

Indeed, the laundry list expands when you toss border wait times into the mix, but using the above, we ask: what is the worst part about cross-border shopping for Canadians?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...