Canadians can get better Black Friday deals in the U.S.

Shoppers wait in line at the Target store in Dartmouth, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the biggest retail events of the year, may not be the best days to get big projects finished at work. It’s the time of year when Canadians shop furtively online while keeping an eye out for the boss as they search for Fingerling toys and debate which model of Instant Pot or smart phone to buy.

A recent survey of 400 office workers and 270 CIOs by Robert Half found that 64 per cent of workers surveyed admitted to shopping during work hours on a company device, and 16 per cent of said they spent one hour or more shopping on the job during last year’s Cyber Monday.

Hot retail market

In the U.S., consumers have already seen great deals for Black Friday and they’re going to last until Christmas, says Melissa Martin, spokesperson for BlackFriday.com, a site which will alert you when the items you want are discounted.

“It’s very hot in retail and we have Amazon to thank for that,” says Martin. “Last year Amazon started a countdown to Christmas, and so this year retailers got a jump on it…offering discounts well in advance of Black Friday.”

“It started a couple of weeks ago and the sales were amazing,” said Martin, adding she saw boots for as low as $19.99 at many major retailers including Macy’s, and “tremendous deals on clothes,” with thermal jackets at 60-70 per cent off at Kohl’s, JCPenney and Macy’s.

The deals in technology have started early too. Martin says that this year Samsung has started selling direct to the consumer, with 40 to 60 per cent off televisions, $120 off tablets and 70 per cent off wearables.

Apple doesn’t tend to discount their products, but Walmart, Target and BestBuy in the U.S. are offering iPhones with bonus gift cards of up to $300.

Is it worth shopping in the U.S.? 

Some U.S. retailers like Nordstrom, ASOS and Macy’s have stepped up their online game, making international purchases easier for Canadians by adding taxes and duties at the time of purchase; alternately, some Canadian shoppers find that if the total is low they can often avoid prohibitive shipping and handling fees when ordering from American sites.

Kohl’s has offered great Black Friday deals said Martin, but they don’t ship to Canada. Another popular option for Canadians who live near the border is to rent a mailbox and have deliveries sent there, or use a service like Kinek, which will receive packages and large items such as tires that can’t be delivered to Canada easily.

We took a look at a few items that make it worth shopping in the U.S. in person or online, but please share your deals – Canadian and American – in the comments!

Housewares

14-piece Rachel Ray cookware set on sale for Black Friday. (Macy’s)

Macy’s has a 13-piece set of pots and pans for just $29 says Martin. Yahoo Canada Finance also noticed a significant price difference on a 14-piece set of Rachel Ray cookware; Macy’s is selling the set for $89.99 (about $114.58 CDN), while in Canada the same package is $179.99 on Amazon.ca.

Clothes

At Kohl’s, we saw the unbeatable deals that Martin mentioned. Men’s Levis 501 jeans are $35.99 ($45.83) plus there’s an extra 15 per cent discount and shipping is free in the U.S. At The Bay in Canada they’re full price, $69.99.

American Eagle and Abercrombie, both are going through some tough number crunching, and they ship to Canada for free for orders over $50,” says Martin.

For Gap clothes, you can stay in Canada, since the deals are similar on either side of the border. Their ladies “perfect boot cords” are $30 in Canada after the 50 per cent off everything coupon is applied, while they’re $25 USD after discount on the American site.

Televisions

TVs are a deal south of the border. We found a 65-inch Samsung (Samsung – 65″ Class (64.5″ Diag.) – LED – 2160p – Smart – 4K Ultra HD) for $914.99 ($1,165.29 CDN) at BestBuy.com, while the same model is $1,499.99 at Amazon.ca.

Martin says that ultimately, Canadian retailers can’t compete with the sales that are seen in the U.S.

“When I go up there to shop, it’s crazy. I don’t know how people live, how they dress themselves,” says Martin.

She recalls a shopping trip to Bath and Body Works in the U.S. last year on Black Friday, where she purchased over $600 worth of merchandise for $127.

“You’re not going to get the same deals in Canada,” says Martin. “You have Boxing Day but it’s nothing like you see in the States.”

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