November marks the unofficial beginning of the holiday-shopping season. Canadians start shopping online or head to the nearest malls. Some even cross the border looking for the best deals on Black Friday.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are notable shopping days that fall on the Friday and Monday after U.S. Thanksgiving. And it’s no surprise that Canadian retailers have adopted these sales over the last decade.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a good sale from time to time. But we’re assuming you’d prefer to take part in one without breaking your bank account. So, here are some cost-saving tips to consider before you start shopping.
(Remember, Black Friday is on November 29 this year.)
1. Find out if crossing the border will cost you more.
It might seem as though there are better bargains to be found stateside. But that’s not always the case. You must consider the current exchange rate as well as duties and provincial sales taxes. These have to be paid before you shop online from a U.S retailer or head south of the border in person.
What’s more, you may also have to consider the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The USMCA may be ratified by the end of the year – or by 2020, at the latest. When this happens, Canada’s duty-free limit will rise from C$20 to C$150 and the sales tax threshold from C$20 to C$40 for all online purchases.
For the time being, however, Canadians must pay duty all on all online and in-store purchases over $20 made outside of Canada, the U.S. or Mexico (even if they’re bought from a U.S. store). Bonus tip: You can get an estimate of how much you could be paying in duty and tax with the Canada Border Services Agency’s free-to-use online calculator.
Canadians travelling south also have to add in the cost of gas, road tolls and travel insurance . Online shoppers only have to deal with shipping and handling costs. After you factor in these extra details, you may find that save more money by shopping Canadian.
- The USMCA includes a big duty cut for online shoppers. Until it gets the green light, here’s how to score the best online deals and bargains.
- Tips for buying travel insurance
- U.S. import tariffs: What you need to know before your next grocery shop
2. Set your shopping limit and stick to it.
To avoid buyer’s remorse during a sale, set a limit on how much you can actually afford to spend. If you’re buying in person, try only taking cash with you. Try leaving credit cards behind in a safe place, like locked away in the glove compartment of your car. That way, you can only spend a limited amount. Just don’t leave your credit card at home if you’re cross-border shopping. You may need it in case an emergency arises while you’re travelling.
But if you’re shopping online, remember your budget and stick to it. Log off once you’ve reached your limit and finalized your purchases. It will make it easier to avoid any unplanned purchases.
- Try this free monthly budget calculator to help you manage your spending.
3. Use a coupon aggregator.
Coupon aggregators like Finder and RetailMeNot allow you to browse by product, category or store. They then list all the latest sales and promo codes associated with your search. Think of them as search engines that provide coupon- or discount-related results.
Some coupon sites like Rakutan work as a cashback service. So you get a little money back when you buy from a retailer promoted on their sites.
4. Look for pre- and post-Black Friday sales.
Black Friday sales aren’t always limited to that particular Friday. Many retailers offer great discounts for the entire week leading up to the sale day. In some cases, these discounts stretch out beyond Cyber Monday (up to December 2).
Do your research ahead of time. Find out which vendors are offering early or post-sale day bargains. This will help you avoid the stress of trying to accomplish all your shopping goals in one day.
5. Take advantage of free shipping.
Along with duty and tax, Canadians might also deal with shipping and handling costs for online purchases. Watch for online vendors who will waive the shipping costs during sale events. Some might also provide free shipping for purchases above a specific amount before tax. Companies like HP offer free shipping and returns if you buy from their online stores. ASOS provides free delivery worldwide on orders over C$45. Sephora drops the standard shipping fee across all provinces for orders over C$50.
6. Subscribe to e-newsletters for Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts.
Several retailers offer one-time discounts or free shipping as an incentive to sign up for their email lists. For example, H&M offers 25% off one item for its newsletter subscribers. Free People provides free shipping on your first order if you opt in to its mailing list. You’re free to unsubscribe afterwards if you want.
7. Maximize your rewards program on Black Friday.
Canadians use rewards programs and subscription services for everything from groceries to tech to travel. For points collectors and membership-only shoppers, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are ideal times to make the most of loyalty or rewards programs.
Like previous years, Amazon Prime Members may get access to Lightning Deals. They may also receive discounts earlier than shoppers without a membership.
For PC Optimum points collectors, Shoppers Drug Mart may enhance the amount of points you can earn with select purchases.
8. Wait for better deals during the holidays or after New Year’s Eve.
Whether you’re buying jewellery, electronics, furniture or household items, the best bargains may show up in December and January. So, if you can, wait for it. You could very well come across a bigger, better bargain soon enough and your bank account will appreciate your patience.
More smart holiday shopping tips: