New exemptions for cross-border shopping take effect
Published Friday, June 1, 2012 5:50PM CST
Canadians can now bring back more U.S. goods after an overnight or weekly trip without being charged extra duty.
Shopper Chelsea Knox said she will be heading down to the United States to take advantage of the new exemptions.
"We're newly pregnant, and I'm going to get some maternity clothing. They don't have a lot of great selection here," said Knox in Winnipeg. "I'm actually very excited about getting all that stuff down there."
The new exemptions, announced in this year's federal budget, mean Canadians can now buy up to $200 worth of goods for a 24-hour trip across the border without having to pay duty. The previous limit was $50. The exemption for a two to seven day trip has increased to $800 from $400.
Knox said the new limit means she can spend more on shopping and less on accommodations. "We'd always have to spend a lot more to stay for two nights – hotels and food and everything," Knox said.
Local retailers are concerned many shoppers will now do just what Knox is doing – and it will hurt their business.
"It's a little scary at first, obviously, because you are a small business, and you don't know how people are going to react to that," said Nicola Loewen, who owns Mad About Style Boutique on Academy Road.
"We do know we have a lot of clients that do their cross-border shopping," Loewen said.
Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce officials have similar concerns. The business group said Canadian tariffs should be lowered or removed to stem the expected flow of consumers and dollars to the United States.
"We really want to look at those sort of things to make sure we're on a level playing field with U.S. retailers and so Canadians aren't going to be put at a disadvantage," said Chuck Davidson of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.
The federal government said the new shopping limits are now harmonized with the ones in the U.S.