As prices rise due to inflation, some people are going back across the border to shop in Michigan.
Some are filling their gas tanks and some are filling groceries.
“I just know I’m getting more for my money,” said Brian Thompson, a veteran cross-border shopper.
He has to take into account credit card fees but still thinks the deals are better.
“There’s a sale over there — well, they exist. They don’t really have them here,” he said. “You can get a dollar off on something a day, but Canadian grocery stores don’t have that many sales… getting my gas alone makes up for whatever I pay for tolls “
Thompson has found that American stores have a much better selection.
“I think grocery stores in Canada have to compete with each other, so they’re forced to make sales and try to bring in customers. Like a better selection on clothing or discounts.”
Sylvain Charlebois is senior director of the Agri-Food Analysis Laboratory at Dalhousie University. He added that cross-border shoppers can also benefit from the American coupon culture.
“You can actually save serious money using coupons in the US. In fact, it’s not rare for someone to walk away from grocery stores without paying anything and even getting credit because the coupons that come with that the person had, was worth more than the actual price of the product.”
Any buyer traveling from Windsor to Detroit will have to remember additional costs, such as toll fees or taxes. There is no tax exemption on goods brought back to Canada by day-trip buyers. Windsor returnees must be away for at least 24 hours to bring back $200 worth of goods without paying taxes.
But even with these costs, Charlebois said it can still pay to buy groceries in Detroit.
“Americans have access to by far the cheapest food basket in the world. So it’s not surprising to see low prices for staple staples like eggs, cheese, milk. Many of their products are cheap. I don’t think Canadians are worried. Regarding food practices in America, they are similar to Canada.”
As the weather warms up, Charlebois is reminding frontline shoppers to invest in coolers to keep dairy or freezer products from spoiling on their way to Windsor.