Is Shopping in the U.S. Worth It?

by Julie Jaggernath

Do you like to grab a friend and head South to take advantage of special discounts and sales for the Thanksgiving weekend in the States? 

The American Thanksgiving weekend, or "Black Friday" as it is often referred to, is the day when retailers start to turn a profit and get back in "the black." Many Canadians cross the border during that weekend to get a start on their Christmas shopping.

Shopping for great deals in the States

Deal or No Deal

However, is it worth shopping in the States? Are the deals actually worth it?

Before you pull out your passport and cross the border to take advantage of the "savings," there are a number of things to consider. These include:

  • Will you purchase items with cash or pay them off over time on credit?
  • What are the savings after factoring in the current exchange rate and credit card fees?
  • How long must you stay in the U.S. to avoid paying duty?
  • How much will it cost you for a hotel, food and gas?

Budget for All of the Costs You'll Have

It is crucial that you factor in all of these extra costs when you're deciding whether there are good deals to be had or not. For example, if you wanted to spend $400 US on gifts, the additional costs could easily add $200 on top of the purchase price of the gifts:

  • Two nights of accommodations (shared): $75
  • Meals and gas: $100
  • Exchange rate (at $0.94): $25
  • Gifts: $400
  • Total: $600

When Adding At Least 50%, Is Shopping in the U.S. Still Worth It?

Paying a 50-per-cent premium on top of the items you've purchased may not be what you had in mind when you thought about shopping for "good deals."

Furthermore, if you had planned on carrying a balance on your credit card until you were able to pay off your shopping trip, you could add another 50% to every single item you bought after interest and fees were added on.

Related: Make a List of Pros and Cons Before Shopping in the States

The Bottom Line

In this example, if you had budgeted $600 for holiday gifts, a trip to the U.S. with a friend would be an added bonus. But if you had only budgeted $400, you may find it makes better sense to shop in Canada for Christmas and find other ways to enjoy time with your friend.