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Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?

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Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?

I have searched for but couldn't find the answer to this so please be kind or point me in the right direction.

We will be in Vancouver in the early Summer for a celebration of our Silver wedding anniversary and hubby's 50th birthday.

We will likely not be leaving the UK anymore for future trips so we would like to do a bit of shopping ( just things we can't get at home in the UK).

We have been to the USA ( various places but New York 3 times) and we have been to Toronto 3 times, the last time was November 2001. The C$ was quite good ( for us Brits back then), now it is very poor.

I wondered if anyone can give me an idea of the magnitude of costs so that we can decide if ( as a tourist) it would be worth us going across the border for our shopping) .

In New York we could get discounts of 10% in some big stores ( which cancelled out the 9% sales tax). In all my research I have done thus far, I have not seen any mention of any discounts for tourists anywhere.

We will not have a car and would have to get across the border to a nice Mall(?) in order to shop, so I wonder if it would cost more to do the "travelling", rather than just suck it up and pay the extra in Vancouver?

13% HST is a lot, even compared to NYC's 9% sales tax and the C$ is 1.77 today ( the rate we can buy it at not the actual rate which is C$1.80), when we came in 2001 it was about C$2.30 so a big difference.

I know folks don't go on holiday to shop, but given its the last trip over the Atlantic we may make, I would like to make the most of it.

Any and all advice from shoppers-in-the -know, appreciated.

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for British Columbia
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1. Re: Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?

You could try something like the Bolt Bus that can take you to downtown Seattle relatively quickly but the bargains of years past are long gone-currency fluctuations and all that.


Edited: 04 February 2014, 20:23
Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?

This link may be helpful …about.com/od/shopping/tp/Cheap-Shopping-in-… One option is to take the Quick Shuttle from Vancouver to Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip, a large discount mall with outlets from various name-brand retailers North of Seattle.

The Bolt Bus now goes to Bellingham, much closer to Vancouver than Seattle. They have a reasonable mall there called Bellis Fair. Really depends on what you're looking to buy.

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3. Re: Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?

Thanks for the links. Not into big designer stuff. Just "regular" American type clothes & things.

Want to get the kids in the family some clothes plus maybe a few bits for myself if possible.

In the UK the US$ has averaged about $1.50 over the last few years. Now ( as an example) a pair of jeans in the UK would cost the same in the USA as in £35 or $35 and at ( an average) of $1.50 to (our) £ that makes clothes in the US about 30% cheaper than the UK.

I am not wanting jeans lol, that's just an example, so you ( Vancouverites) can see (from our point of view) if its worth the trip over the border.

I hope that makes sense?

Thanks everyone.

SE Ontario
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4. Re: Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?

As a general rule, things in Canada are cheaper than the UK, but more expensive than the US.

But really - if you want to know the price of things, go to a US retailers website, set the country locator to US, and look at the prices. Then if you want to compare - say use the Gap as an example - look at their Canadian site and compare prices.

And perhaps go to the Seattle forum to ask about prices and places to shop. It's somewhat unreasonable to expect Canadians to either know US prices on items, or encourage you to spend your $$ there rather than here.

Penticton, Canada
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5. Re: Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?


A totally different option:

shop on line for the kids clothes if you want to save money; they will not know any better. I settled the uncle bearing gifts every time I visited the kids; they only appreciated it for a short time before they moved on to something else anyway.

You will have saved time and money to see proper attractions rather than seeing another shopping mall and the inside of a bus. First spend some of that money you will save from not having to travel to the US on yourself; If you still feel guilty you have to get them something then get them something like an ice hockey jersey from a Canadian team so they have something special. …myshopify.com/collections/jerseys since it has Vancouver as part of the logo

or a Canadian Football Jersey BC Lions http://store.bclions.com/home.php?cat=253

and forget the tax. VAT is 30% so HST at 13% is cheap, so budget it if you want it. If you can afford to travel to Canada and the US stop fretting about the tax, it is what it is. It is the destination and resort fees that will get you in the end anyway (-:


Surrey, Canada
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6. Re: Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?

You can get a coach from Vancouver or Richmond down to the outlet malls north of Seattle (Seattle Premium Outlets) so that would solve your no-car problem.


We no longer have HST in British Columbia, the taxes are again separate - PST is 7%, GST is 5%. added up it's 12% but you don't pay that 12% on everything.

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for Seattle
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7. Re: Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?

since I live in the US but work in Canada in summer I can tell you that without exception anything you buy in the US will be considerably cheaper. Even buying Cdn products in Seattle is cheaper than buying the same product in Canada. I do think its worth the trip. The outlet mall is good and you would take the Quick Coach both ways. The Bolt bus which is operated by Greyhound from downtown Vancouver goes very close to Bellis Fair mall in Bellingham. That would be quite easy. You may wish to post on the Washington State forum and search for this question since its come up before. A fun way would be to take the train


to Bellingham and a cab to Bellis Fair Mall. Lots of shops very close to the mall so lots of variety.

8. Re: Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?

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9. Re: Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?

My opinion is that it is not worth making a trip to go to the USA for shopping. I've gone down that way with my daughter a few times and we have ended up buying almost nothing and have found very few bargains. However, we are pretty savvy shoppers so expect a lot.

I'm surprised that David finds things cheaper in the USA; I have found the opposite for most things. The difference can show up in online shopping, there is a lot of USA selection for online items and if you search multiple sources you can sometimes find great deals. Also some home products like faucets/taps can be cheaper, but I doubt you are in the market for taps and light fixtures, the things I have bought in the USA recently. Oh yeah, we also buy cheese in the USA.

Don't forget that as of now, the prices in US dollars will cost you ten percent more than the Cdn dollar cost.

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10. Re: Cross Border shopping for tourists without a car?

Thank you pumpermum.

I was just trying to see if it was worthwhile because I like to treat my relatives who are not fortunate enough to be able to travel.

Someone pointed out that if I can afford to go to Canada then I can afford to shop there ( I am paraphrasing).

We save like stink and unlike across the atlantic we NEVER eat out ( here in the UK, though love to when over there of course). We live in a tiny, tiny house, don't, drink, smoke, gamble or have hobbies that cost money.

So this means we are able to have a special trip to celebrate our Silver wedding anniversary and hubbys 50th.

I am very generous and love to buy things for my nearest & dearest, hence the question.

I have looked at the USA/Canada prices for things where I am able to compare ie.Gap and to be honest when you factor in the exchange rate ( for us here) and the cost of travel to get across the border (not to mention the precious holiday time) I reckon we will just buy what we want in Vancouver.

There was so much on the internet about Canadians going across the border to shop, I just thought there must be big savings to be had?

We are not "label victims" so are not interested in "designer" stuff, just stuff that is not available here.

Do you know if the stores have sales in the run up to Canada day? ( we leave ON Canada day to come home).

Finally, strange question, but it is my personal custom to bring with me, little "British goodies" to give out randomly to people I come across on my travels. These are usually key rings(chains), chocolate & biscuits etc.

Are there any UK brands that you are aware of that might be unavailable there that might be well received?

(I was thinking Marks and Spencer? since they no longer have any stores in Canada), but any ideas/suggestions will be helpful.

For the cynics reading this, this is NOT instead of tips, I am a generous tipper, this is stuff I give out to sales clerks/hotel receptionists, people I get chatting to etc.

I found I had one key chain leftover when going through security at JFK so I asked a young woman stood by the conveyor belt if she would like it (TSA agent?) she said yes, thank you she would and she stood there looking at it as if I had given her a gold ingot, I felt very humble ( as we don't know what is going on in other peoples lives), so I would like to carry on my "tradition".

Thank you for reading.