The loonie is still near parity and there are going to be some serious shopping deals across the border for the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend. For some people, it is a thrill to cross the border and join in on the mayhem. But if you prefer to avoid the stampedes, the long lines and the early jump required to get the really good deals, you can always turn to Wishabi.ca.
Wishabi is a website that surveys prices of retail products from various merchants to identify the best deals. On the surface, it doesn't sound all that different from other sites, but there's more: Wishabi also provides a history of price movement for a given product over the past few months and will recommend whether now is a good time to buy, or if you might be better off waiting for a better price. If that wasn't enough, it also provides a detailed breakdown of the price if you buy it from a U.S. retailer, accounting for currency exchange, duties and shipping.
For example, when I clicked on the "Cross Border" tab from the top menu, and then on the electronics category, I found that a Q-See Color Camera with Night Vision was selling for $409.99 in Canada. But you could save $280.36 (Canadian) by purchasing it from a U.S. retailer, as the adjusted price in Canadian dollars was only $129.63 after shipping and duties. That's a whopping 68-per-cent savings and you don't have to drive or wait in a lineup. You do have to wait for it to ship, however.
Now, not everything is going to be 68 per cent cheaper if you order it from a U.S. online retailer, but it certainly doesn't hurt to check out the prices. Last holiday season, I was in the market for an A/V home theatre receiver and the model I was looking for was certainly cheaper across the border. But I actually ended up picking up the model in my own neighbourhood because I simply printed out the deal from Wishabi and brought it into a local mom-and-pop stereo store. I used the deal as a bargaining chip and they lowered the price so much that I purchased it on the spot.
I like supporting local businesses, but I'm also a capitalist. My money goes to where the best deals can be had. Luckily, many business owners understand this and are willing to negotiate. So don't be shy, and don't be apologetic: You'll certainly never get the deal you don't ask for.
Preet Banerjee is the W Network's Money Expert and a senior vice-president with Pro-Financial Asset Management. His website is wheredoesallmymoneygo.com