Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Online shopping for Canadians: Part 1

I recently had my first request for a post from a reader, asking me to write about online shopping for Canadians.  I would say I buy about 20% of my purchases online, whether that's shoes, clothing or books.

My first foray into online shopping was on the Banana Republic website.  I like Banana Republic for buying classic work staples, and they occasionally have some very pretty and versatile dresses.  Some picks from the website:

-designated site for Canadians with prices in Canadian dollars
-free shipping if you spend at least $50
-quick shipping time.  I live in Calgary and usually see my purchases within 2-3 business days.
-easy returns (can mail back or return in store, if you are like me and paranoid about Canada Post losing things)
-frequent sales.  Right now there is a 35% off promotion.
-consistent sizing
-if you shop through the Aeroplan eStore, you can earn Aeroplan points
-great customer service via email (price adjustments given easily, quick response time)

-the prices on the U.S. and Canadian sites do not reflect the exchange rate.  As an example, the Geo Overlay dress on the American site is $150, whereas on the Canadian site, it's $185. Using the exchange rate even when the Canadian dollar slumped a few days ago, it should be more like $165 Canadian
-the American site also has more items than the Canadian site
-there have been times when I've noticed that the prices online and in store differ significantly, usually related to markdowns

Do you shop online? What are your favourite stores?


  1. So pleased to see this. Hoping it's a 20-part series. I buy probably 90% of my clothes/shoes/accessories online.

    Another pro for BR is that the shopping cart links to Gap and Old Navy, and you can add the purchases from all three to get the minimum necessary for free shipping. I typically fill my cart and then wait for a 40% off sale. The website keeps your items in the cart indefinitely even if you don't sign in.

    J Crew is my favourite online store, although returns are a hassle. So sad that Zappos Canada shut down.

    1. I didn't know that the cart links to Gap and Old Navy. Good to know.

      Not sure about a 20-part series but I'll try my best!

  2. This is interesting. I am not Canadian, but I am fascinated by the shipping structure Canada has. It seems like there are so many hoops to jump through. I had assumed that there would be no returns, because of the hassle. Maybe it is not as complicated as I thought. Although that $20 difference you mentioned would break my heart.


    1. Yes. The exchange rate drives me crazy. It seems like Canadians get dinged on everything (books are another bad item! They publish both prices right on the cover and usually are way off the exchange rate!)

      I think the shopping situation in Canada has improved a lot over the last 20 years or so. When I was growing up, I was always frustrated by how I'd see dresses or makeup in YM or Seventeen (ha) and not be able to buy them. Did you know that we just got Target in the last year or so?

  3. I do shop online, but I'm lucky that my sister lives in Boston so I use her as a post office. If I'm going to visit, I'll order online (usually J.Crew and Anthropologie) and then pick it up at her place to take home. I hate the retailers that don't take Canadian credit cards and ship to American addresses.
    Otherwise, from here, I'll occasionally order from J.Crew when it's 30-40% off and free shipping, maybe from the Gap when they have big promotions, but that's about it. I hate seeing the difference in prices too, but sometimes I just suck it up.
    But I'm cutting back on shopping this year anyway, so not much of either! :)

    1. I have never bought anything from J. Crew. There's finally a store in Calgary, but I just haven't made it in there to try things on. Do you find the sizes pretty consistent?