In Canada, shopping goes beyond the typical tourist souvenirs like Mountie dolls and maple leaf T-shirts. Visitors have a wide selection of products to choose from, ranging from electronics and clothing to jewelry.
The country also offers a variety of unique goods that are specific to its regions. Examples include maple syrup from Quebec, smoked salmon from British Columbia, and cowboy boots from Alberta. Additionally, there are indigenous artworks that draw inspiration from centuries-old traditions, such as carvings by west-coast peoples and paintings and tapestries by the Inuit. Major cities provide various shopping options like covered malls, chain stores, specialty shops, galleries, and street markets. In rural areas, beautifully crafted items made by local artisans can be found. It’s important to note that sales taxes are added to the price of many items.
Shopping hours in Canada vary, but in larger cities, most stores typically open around 9 am and close between 5 pm and 9 pm. However, some grocery and variety stores operate 24 hours a day, and several pharmacies in major towns also have 24-hour service. Many towns have extended store hours until 9 pm on Friday evenings. However, in smaller towns and villages, it is not common for any stores, including gas stations, to remain open after 6 pm. Sunday openings are becoming more common, usually from noon to 5 pm, although these hours may differ from province to province. It’s advisable to check in advance, as many rural areas may have closed establishments on Sundays.
HOW TO PAY
The majority of Canadian stores accept major credit cards, with VISA and MasterCard being the most widely used. However, some stores may require a minimum purchase amount to use a card, and they may impose limitations on card usage during summer and winter sales. Direct payments, also known as “Switch” transactions, are also popular, and you can find point-of-sale terminals for bank cards in most supermarkets and department stores. Travelers’ checks are readily accepted, as long as you provide proper identification such as a valid passport or driver’s license. However, the only non-Canadian currency accepted in department stores is US dollars. Keep in mind that the exchange rate for US dollars is usually lower, sometimes up to 15 percent less, than what a bank would offer. Some large stores may have money-changing services available within the store.
When it comes to sales taxes, Canadians often grumble about the national Goods and Services Tax (GST), which currently stands at 7 percent. This tax is added to most retail transactions, except for basic food items. Non-resident visitors can apply for a GST rebate on most goods within 60 days of purchase, excluding expenses like restaurant bills, drinks, tobacco, or transportation. Refund forms can be found in airports, duty-free stores, hotels, and most Canadian embassies. When submitting the application to Revenue Canada, make sure to include the original receipts, as photocopies are not accepted. In addition to the GST, most provinces impose a provincial sales tax ranging from 5 to 12 percent on meals and store-bought items. However, some regions such as Alberta, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories do not impose this tax, and others like Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland offer rebates to non-residents.