Canadians are Getting Fleeced by Their Own Dollar

by Nora Dunn on 7 October 2007 6 comments
Photo: Nora Dunn

First of all, I must confess: I am Canadian. And although much of Wise Bread's readership is based in the United States, I know there are a number of readers from other countries, including Canada. This article is written from a Canadian consumer's perspective.

For the first time in over three decades, the Canadian Dollar ($CDN) has surpassed the U.S. Dollar ($USD). And by the end of this year, predictions are that the $CDN will hit $1.05 US. This is certainly a double-sided coin (or bill, as the case may be).

Canadians have been on quite the roller coaster ride, as only five years ago, the $CDN was trading at $0.62 US. That was great for Canadian businesses, as it enticed many Americans to visit and shop in Canada. Border towns were crowded with shoppers from the States.

Now, it's the other way around. The viability of Canadian businesses in the border towns and Canadian tourism overall is in jeopardy, while many Canadian consumers are enjoying discounted shopping and accommodation rates in U.S. border towns. This is great news for Canadian snowbirds (retired Canadians who spend the winter in warm southern states), and those who live near the border who can hop across to shop. But what about the bigger implications for the average Canadian consumer?

In my research about the many effects of the dollar disparity, I couldn't find much information about consequences for Canadian consumers every day. And there are indeed consequences.

For example, when Canadians go to the bookstore, many books are published with a U.S. price, and beside it a corresponding Canadian price (which is inevitably higher). And the Canadian retailers are incredibly slow to alter their prices.

Book Prices

Now, I understand that since currency changes are so fluid, prices can't be adjusted every day to reflect new rates. Stock must change over, and importers must be realizing lower rates before they can pass them on to retailers and ultimately consumers.

However that book I very recently purchased (for which there was no price adjustment), reflects a Canadian dollar value of $0.68. The last time the Canadian dollar was at that value was in 2003. I can't believe that the importer of that book brought it in four years ago. And even if they did, Canadian consumers shouldn't have to pay for importers' mistakes. It is the importer's and retailer's job to assume that sort of currency risk.

I also like to order goods on a monthly basis through a U.S.-based company, but one that has a huge Canadian contingent and a special Canadian price list. However this price list is also extremely slow to be adjusted (despite the fact that there is no pre-paid product sitting on Canadian shelves), and as such if I placed an order today, I would pay over 6% more than I should based on the exchange rate.

These are just a few examples of many, in which Canadian consumers are getting the short end of the exchange rate stick, and have been for years (just not as dramatically as recently). Importers are profiting, retailers are profiting, but consumers are still left to pay the difference in price.

Our buck stops here.

Additional photo credit: Nora Dunn
0
No votes yet
Your rating: None
ShareThis

comments

6 discussions

Add New Comment

CAPTCHA
This test helps prevent automated spam submissions.
Guest's picture
funkright

I buy all my books from amazon.COM, not .CA.. live near the border so I just get them shipped to a US address.. you should see price disparities start to be addressed as we move through the rest of this year. It takes time for inventories to be moved through (which were bought at higher prices by Canadian firms), but we will benefit sooner than later ;-)

Guest's picture

Just today I went into Future Shop, they dropped most of their items down to U.S. prices, or at least as close as they dare to. The iPod I ended up buying was $249 USD on the Apple website, and ended up being $259 CAD instead of the $279 CAD it was last week.

Sure, the $10 is fleecing me... but I chalk that up to the cost of shipping if I were to buy it online.

Philip Brewer's picture

I chalk that up to the cost of shipping if I were to buy it online.

And that's the only thing that's going to change the situation. No retailer is going to start offering better prices just because it's "fair." They'll offer better prices when competition forces them to.

As long as habit, convenience, and expenses like shipping and taxes bring buyers into the shops, retailers will go on charging as much as people will pay. Only when they lose serious business to on-line buyers and people who cross the border to shop, will prices come down.

Andrea Karim's picture

Wow, this makes me feel ever-so-slightly better about the barrage of "American beer sucks" comments I have to endure tonight at dinner. Happy Thanksgiving, Nora!

Nora Dunn's picture

You're all right. I've typically been a fan of the see-touch-smell experience of shopping in stores, but I guess I'm going to have to succumb to ordering more on-line.

And Happy Columbus Day / Thanksgiving to you Andrea, and to everybody!

Guest's picture

At least one independent recognizes that its customers will reward consideration with loyalty.

From this CBC article, "The owners of Audrey's Books, which has been in business for more than three decades, say there's no reason why Canadian readers should continue to pay a higher price for books."

They are now selling their US sourced books at US list pricing in Edmonton, Alberta.