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Shopping for Expats in Canada

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: December 2013

Shopping in Canada can be a great experience. In the larger cities, you can buy anything from world class designer products to traditional crafts.

Many shops are situated in large shopping centres or malls. West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta is one of the world’s largest malls. It boasts over 800 shops and services including 100 restaurants, the second largest indoor amusement park, an indoor water park, an ice rink and a sea life cove housing three sea lions. For everyday shopping, many local shops can be found in town or city centres.

You may find there is a market in your local city or town centre, these are good places to buy fresh but cheap fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood. For example, St. Lawrence Market in Toronto has a history of more than two hundred years. There are 120 stalls providing different services with many a family business of several generations.  

Supermarkets can offer you a large variety of goods and services, including certain foods from all over the world. Very large stores are normally situated outside of the town or city centre but may provide free buses between the store and certain places. Some of the larger names in Canada are listed below:

  • Wal-Mart
  • Target  
  • Costco
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Longos
  • Whole Foods

For more information about the supermarket chains in Canada, you can check here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_supermarket_chains_in_Canada.

There are designer outlets in Canada, where you can find many brands at a discounted price. As Canada is so close to the US, where there is comparably more choice, people in Canada often go to the US to shop. Bear in mind that you are required to present your passport and other documents when crossing the border. You may also be required to obtain a visa before entering the US. For more information, you can check here https://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/.

Online shopping

Online shopping is very popular in Canada. There are many online shops and stores with many high street shops and supermarkets having their own online websites. Many of them provide free delivery if your purchase reaches a certain amount.

You can buy what you want online from all over the world, from sites such as Amazon and ebay but you need to be aware that this is a form of importation. This may trigger custom duties and VAT, while some items are not allowed to enter Canada. Please check the website for the Canada Border Services Agency here https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/import/per-eng.html to confirm your purchase is allowed.   

Shopping hours  

Typical opening hours are 9am to 5pm although some shops in shopping centres may open until late evening.  Large supermarkets may even have a 24-hour service.

However, actual business hours differ between each province. Shops in some jurisdictions may open 24 hours a day all through the year while other jurisdictions may not allow shops to open on certain public holidays, or even Sundays.  You can find more information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shopping_hours#Canada.

Returns and Refunds policy

There is no law requiring sellers to accept the return or exchange of a product sold. Shops usually have their own return and refund policies. It is highly recommended that you should check it carefully before you make a purchase.  Such policies can often be found on the back of the purchase receipt and/or posted near the cash register. If not, ask the shop assistant and get it in writing on the receipt.

You should also note such policies may differ for special promotion or occasions, make sure you are aware of these changes. For more information, you can check here: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/ca02478.html.

 

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