Money & Career

Are you mad about higher prices for Canadians?

When I was growing up, the U.S. dollar was always much higher than the lowly loonie. Things I bought in the States would seem cheap initially, until I’d get my Visa bill and realize that all those bargains were just an illusion.

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When I was growing up, the U.S. dollar was always much higher than the lowly loonie. Things I bought in the States would seem cheap initially, until I’d get my Visa bill and realize that all those bargains were just an illusion. Translated into Canadian dollars, I’d spent way more than planned.

But now that the loonie is riding high, the tables have turned. Bolstered by our steroidal currency, we now peruse U.S. real-estate listings looking for bargains and happily hop over the border to buy our clothes on the cheap. A recent article in the Globe and Mail calls it “loonie swagger” and it sure is a good feeling…until you walk into a U.S. chain store up here and find that we’re still getting charged the same high prices.

Indeed, most U.S. chains haven’t lowered their prices along with the rising loonie — and more and more Canadians are feeling ripped off. Back in April, for example, I bought a BCBG dress in the Florida that would have easily cost me $50 more up here. And recently the U.S. clothing chain J. Crew angered Canadian customers for jacking up its prices in Canada when consumers can easily go online and see the same stuff offered for 30-percent less in U.S. dollars. Even our Financial Minister, Jim Flaherty, has weighed in on the price divide, calling it “irritating” and suggesting it be investigated.

More U.S.-based retailers in Canada say they’re going to review their prices — but I’m not so sure. Most likely, they’ll just remove U.S. prices from the tags so we can’t compare as easily, or make it harder for Canadians to see U.S. pricing on their websites.

I’d like to know whether or not you have loonie swagger, and if it’s made you rethink how and what you buy from U.S. retailers here in Canada?