Canada vs United States – Grocery Shopping Battle in Washington State

Now, this sounds like a headline you would read on “The Onion” or a fake news website. This is real!

Some American neighbors from Bellingham, Washington are a bit unhappy with the large number of Canadian shoppers in their community, so they created a Facebook page to complain about needing “Americans Only” shopping time.

This page was taken down by the creator (perhaps due to the negative publicity), but being a current Costco member (we will not be extending our membership for next year), I can testify that lines are outrageous at this particular store.

Here are some of the problems with shopping across the border:

1. Insane wait times for shopping.

I enjoy grocery shopping but I do not enjoy major lines (that is why when we shop at Costco we shop during off-peak hours).

If you do plan to shop across the border, try alternative stores like Fred Meyer or Safeway or Albertsons. They all have great deals and take coupons.

2. The savings are not worth it.

Honestly, all dairy products are usually cheaper in the United States and we buy cheese in the United States at nearly 50% prices in Canada however, if you are planning a trip to the United States and happen to purchase some on the way back that is one thing but making a special trip may not be worth it when you consider border lineups and the travel time.

Here are some sample price savings:

  • A jug of milk at the Downtown Vancouver Costco is listed for $4.60, while the equivalent at the Bellingham Costco is $2.50.
  • A 1 kg block of cheese is $13 in Vancouver but $4 cheaper in Bellingham.
  • A 230-count case of Huggies diapers is $48.99 and about $10 cheaper south of the border.

What is your time worth?

3. The products are all different

What you buy in Canada is different in the United States, the standards for many products are different. Did you know that even if you find an unbelievable deal on a car seat, you would not be able to leave the hospital (must be CSA certified).

This goes for their standards of meat, and dairy (buyer beware). Good luck trying to return a product back to a store in the United States (food or grocery).

In saying some of the negatives, I still enjoy shopping down there (when we travel), due to the different products available that we can’t purchase in Canada.

Has anyone had any battles in the United States shopping?

Profile imageAuthor: Steven Zussino on August 15th, 2012. Steven Zussino is the co-founder of Grocery Alerts Canada. He loves to help Canadians save money on groceries. He also runs the blog, CanadianPersonalFinance.com.

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