Canadian shoppers live with the fear that whenever they buy something, an American to the south is probably buying it cheaper. But an investigation of the so-called cross-border “price gap” reveals a murky world where some items are pricier, some things are cheaper — and it’s not always clear why.Below, a maddening product-by-product journey into the phenomenon that everyone hates, but nobody understands.
From Bellingham, Wash. to Champlain, N.Y., the United States’ northern border is filled with towns whose primary industry is servicing the whims of Canadian shoppers. One of the top sellers in these towns? Tires. Depending on the model, it can cost up to 50 per cent more to swap them out in Canada versus doing it in the U.S. According to the Tire Dealer Association of Canada, it’s all due to “country pricing.” There is no import tariff to bring U.S.-made tires into Canada, but Canadians retailers say that their supplier contracts with tire makers force them to buy from Canadian affiliates who charge inflated Canada-specific prices. “In the end it’s the Canadian tire consumer who gets gouged by higher tire prices,” wrote the Association in 2013. But as with many things on this list, there is no blanket rule. A Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus goes for $112.99 at a typical Canadian Costco. Head to the Bellingham, WA Costco, meanwhile, and you’ll pay $125.05.