Canadians are Getting Fleeced by Their Own Dollar
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.
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.