Perhaps, it’s just me but I just don’t understand the appeal that Black Friday seems to have for some Canadian shoppers. It totally makes sense for a Canadian on a visit to the US to get some Christmas shopping done but let’s list the steps involved for a Canadian resident driving across the border simply to score some Black Friday bargains:

1. Take Thursday or Friday or both days off.

2. Drive to the US border. Wait in line to clear US customs.

3. Spend money on gas, tolls (if any), lodging and meals.

4. Line up in the cold well before store opening to snag the best deals. Try and avoid any brawls that may break out.

5. Buy items on your list. Pay sales taxes (if applicable). If you are paying with a Canadian credit card, you’ll be charged a 2.5% fee on top of the applicable exchange rate.

6. Wait in line (again!) to pay taxes, duties (if applicable) at Canadian customs.

I hate shopping at Wal-Mart even on a regular weekend. For me, no TV is worth lining up for hours in the cold in front of a Wal-Mart.

This article has 17 comments

  1. It’s crazy.

    I would assume that most shoppers who do the 4 am lineup, just plain enjoy it. Kind of like the person who does the 10-day canoe trip in mosquito-infested waters. :)

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  3. Not black Friday related…

    I just bought a pair of shoes on EBay from a US seller. After shipping, taxes, currency conversion, it works out to be a 27% discount.

    I’d like to support the Canadian retailer if possible, but not when there’s a 27% difference. If the difference was less than 10%, I’d usually buy from Canada.

    • @Mike: It does appear that many who go Black Friday shopping enjoy the process. I don’t see the appeal of that either but then we are talking about tastes, I suppose.

      @Slacker: Agree. If there is a significant price difference and I don’t have to drive to the border, I’d do the same as well.

  4. 1. I buy everything I can online and have it shipped

    2. …only if the USD is at par or the CAD is stronger than the USD

    3. I generally don’t want/need anything they put on sale (TV? No.)

    4. If you stay less than 24 hours, you get $0 as a free pass. You need to stay about 3 days up to a week to get even $500 worth of tax exemption and duties

    5. I don’t want to die in line with people shoving and screaming with $_$ in their eyes

    6. Crowds in general, bother me.

  5. This past weekend was my first Black Friday experience. Luckily it fit into my schedule and I didn’t have to take time off. I went with my sister, who has gone for the past several years. The only thing I can say to your above points, is Black Friday is about the adventure. For me it was one worth taking, didn’t line up at 4am but still got some great deals, had a roadie, and was in good company. Sometimes it’s the little things in the experience that make it worthwhile.

  6. @FB: I hate crowds too. That’s reason enough for me to avoid Black Friday or Boxing Day madness. Having said that, people do line up to watch the Star Wars movies or a new video game or a new Apple gadget. I suppose that’s some folks idea of fun.

    @Femi: Fair enough. It seems for you any money saved is incidental to the fun weekend getaway you had. I’m just questioning whether it is *financially attractive* to drive to the US solely for Black Friday shopping as some shoppers are claiming in media reports.

  7. If you know what you are doing (research/compare prices) you can save a lot of money. I’ve gone for the past 3 years. I don’t do the midnight/4 am stuff and I don’t go to walmart. Clothing and kitchen items can be great buys.
    Cost = $130 (Motel = $50, Gas = $80) + 6 hours driving time
    Savings = pots $100 + clothes $400 = $500

    $370/6 hours = $60/per hour
    Not bad pay.

  8. Totally agree with you on the hassle. I would never do it myself. If we’re not talking about savings of hundreds of dollars, it’s not even worth thinking about crossing the border. But that’s just me.

  9. I’m not a particularly materialistic type of person, so I generally don’t buy anything that I don’t absolutely need. And for the stuff that I need, I can’t wait until a Black Friday or Boxing Day sale or whatever. In that case, I usually shop for convenience rather than for price.

  10. I’m with you, CC. Hate the crowds. Also, I’m at the point in my life where almost everything I want or need, I already have. Anything I do end up wanting, I can find for a good price online somewhere. I do check out the sales online during Black Friday and Boxing Day, but I usually don’t buy anything.

  11. I don’t feel the extra savings during Black Friday are worthwhile, however, we do a fair amount of cross border shopping. These are usually tied to 1+ week long roadtrip/holidays anyway, makes sense since when buying things for our little one, we saved hundreds – say >30% on baby essentials, and that wasn’t the primary purpose of the trip anyway.

    I couldn’t do a Black Friday, the thought of getting trampled isn’t very appealing.

  12. Ditto. One point missed: if you buy an electronic item and find a problem in the first 30 days, it will most likely require another slog to the U.S. when you could have paid a bit more and make a short drive to return. I do agree with the online shopping though. Im big on doing research for ratings and if I find the qaulity for my money (value) online I will do it. I say do the numbers and you drive to the U.S. factor in the frustration factor.

  13. It’s unfortunate that everyone places value on their ability to get a great deal, but very few place value on their time. They would rather spend a day in the car to save a few hundred dollars. If I were to make that journey it would be to experience an American thanksgiving with my wife’s extended family that resides in the U.S.

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  16. We like to travel in the US in November. Florida is a zoo after the Thanksgiving weekend but a nice quiet place to visit (discounted hotels and the restaurants are happy to have you) before Thanksgiving. My wife accompanies me on the hiking biking diving for two weeks :) and I accompany her on black Friday :( We do most of our Christmas shopping and we are both happy :~/

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