With the Canadian dollar reaching parity, the lead story in Sunday’s Ottawa Citizen is that many Canadians are crossing the border in search of discounts in clothing, books and electronics. One couple featured in the story mentioned that they spent $120 and estimated that they saved $60 by shopping at Target. It is questionable how much they really saved after accounting for the three hour round trip from Ottawa to Watertown in New York state, customs duties (if any) and New York sales tax (almost 8%).
Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see how much you could really save by driving to the US, by comparing prices on popular electronics goods on Best Buy’s online store in Canada and the United States. I am ignoring the cost and time in driving to the U.S., any local sales taxes but adding a 5% customs duty as most electronics gadgets are manufactured in Asia. Also, I’ll assume that 1 CAD = 1 USD and there is no cost in exchanging the currency. These assumptions may not be accurate depending on where you live, so your total savings (if any) could be much less.
Here’s how prices in U.S. compare to those in Canada:
- Sharp Aquos 52″ LCD (LC52D64U): 11% more.
- Samsung 40″ LCD (LNT4071): 2% less.
- XBox 360 Halo 3 Special Edition: 7% less.
- Sony PlayStation 3, 60 GB: 5% less.
- Apple 80 GB iPod Classic Video: 6% less.
- Apple 8 GB iPod Nano: 5% less.
- Nikon D40x Digital SLR Camera with lens: 9% less.
- Canon PowerShot Digital ELPH (SD850IS): 15% less.
- Canon MiniDV Camcorder (ZR800): 11% less.
- Sony DVD Camcorder (HDR-UX7): 3% less.
Based on a very unscientific sample set, it seems to me that not much savings can be had in buying electronics south of the border. While gadgets are, in general, lower priced they are not significantly cheaper.