This is a post about how I shop, or how I changed in the way I shop, for my everyday goods and needs. With all the fuss about the huge price differences between Canada and the Untied States from when our currencies were at par with each other, many wondered why the U.S. goods soled for far cheaper prices than compared to up here in my neck of the woods. As a consumer, this made me question the free market and commerce system, and I started asking the hard questions. I did my own research, and with several trips down to the U.S., and price shopping around the world through the World Wide Web, I started seeing trends that even the media was missing out in their news reports and documentaries I have been watching lately. I heard excuses like, shipping, taxes, and overhead costs as the main culprit for higher prices up here in Canada, but then I found Canada made goods being sold in the U.S. far cheaper then in Canada!
Pricing from inside the store as compared to what you see on the web is a world of difference. First, many retailers do not post their complete price lists on line. There are some that give complete listings, so you have to know who they are when shopping online. Most electronics stores will not post their complete prices online, such as lower cost items, and some deals, and certain sale items, simply becuase they do not want their competitors to know. It also serves as an intensive to drive directly down to their store and shop. Secondly, many retailers want to deter you from doing price comparison–period. The fear is, buyers would never shop at your store if your prices were not in line with what your competitors are selling it for, so some stores go out of their way by not listing prices at all on their websites. Lastly, the reverse to online shopping comparison is when a customer goes into a store, inquires about an item, gets sales help to make their buying decision, but then goes home and buys it online, usually at a cheaper price. But the lure of online shopping is so strong that even myself, I now do well over fifty percent of my general shopping online now.
Shopping on line usually takes me away from buying locally. In fact, I found that around fifteen percent of goods that I buy came from China, Korea and Japan. Yes, I do head down to my local retailers and scan, very carefully, the prices and goods that I have an interest in buying, but I most often head home, search online in websites such a Amazon, Ebay and many others too, to find my deals there. So even shopping down in the U.S. is more expensive for some items across the Pacific.
I find that when you factor in shipping, taxes and duty fees, these extra costs can be a deterrent, but if you do your homework you can bring the costs down a lot through careful planning. You can have the items shipped to a location just outside Canada, or near the boarder to where you can drive to, then you can bring the items across yourself, really saving the bottom line. And this is the trick, cutting the extra charges as much as possible. Buying the item in from the U.S. also lowers your cost too because I believe that the U.S. merchant thinks he is selling to a fellow American, so they tend to keep their prices competitive in their own marketplace–so you can capitalize on that too.
Oddly enough, I find that I can avoid some taxes, or have taxes exempt from buying within Canada, but buying outside of my Provence (whether this is legal or not, I do not know). But, for items that are really small in cost, I rarely get dinged with duty and taxes from my online shopping, but only if it is a single items, say under $40.00.
Free shipping is always something that I look for. When I buy clothes, I find that if I buy, say, over a hundred dollars, the shipping is usually free. For example, I bought five pairs of jeans, really good quality, for about fifty percent off from what any of my local shops were selling them for. I have the garments checked out by a friend who does merchandising, and she told that they were the real deal, not counterfeit knock-offs. Again, I found the deal from doing several hours of online shopping, or surfing the web, for deals.
On side note, Google is not your friend, as I am finding out, for doing the serious shopping with. There are far better shopping search engines that get you to the true deals when scouting out stores and direct buys around the world. I find that Google tries to limit your search when shopping to specific locations before you get to the good deals, so try other search engines out before you commit to paying your hard earned cash out into cyberspace.
I cannot rule out shopping locally online too. I do shop online from stores that are just down the street from me. Sometimes, you can get deals doing it this way. Shop online, then do a local pick-up. As weird as it sounds, I found a few friends doing this as well, and I think some businesses like doing it this way. It is sort of like doing the old fashion catalogue shopping, but in real time, online.
There are health benefits to online shopping too. I have not yet caught a nasty flue bug this year. I think staying away from high risk areas like rapid transit, malls, and well travelled markets, has added to my germ free year 2013 (so far). It is not that I do not get out, I just do not go to places where I know there are many sick people spreading their contagions around.