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Savvy Cross-Border Shopping

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The beauty of eCommerce is that we can shop from our computers or tablets any time and easily make purchases from distant locations. It also allows us to compare and thus buy the products at the lowest price.

Which is all well and good, but when purchasing fabric from a foreign company, there are many factors involved. And ultimately what seems like a bargain, could in fact be more costly than you think.

Here is a current, real life example:

Camelot Double Gauze Cotton Print:

My Regular CAD Price: $15.00 per metre

Major USA Company Regular USD Price: $11.98 per yard

At first blush, it looks like I am more expensive by $3.02 or 26%. Yikes!

Now let's compare apples to apples using the relevant conversion factors.

Metric/Imperial Constants: 1 metre = 0.9144 yards; 1 yard = 1.09361 metres

Bank of Canada CAD to USD FX rate Dec 1: 0.7856

Bank of Canada USD to CAD FX rate Dec 1: 1.2729

This formula converts the U.S. company's USD price per yard into the equivalent Canadian price per metre:

USD Price Conversion:11.98 x 1.09361 x 1.2729 =16.69 CAD per metre

Immediately you can see that the U.S. price is $1.69 more expensive per metre than the Canadian price in CAD.

Now this formula converts the Canadian price per yard into the equivalent U.S. price per yard:

CAD Price Conversion:15.00 x 0.9144 x 0.7856 =10.78 USD per yard

This also confirms the U.S. company's fabric is more expensive by $1.20 in USD per yard.

And that's assuming you are able to get the preferred bank rates from your credit card company. Add to that shipping in local currency and suddenly, the cross-border purchase could be looking unattractive. Or not. It just depends on crunching the numbers.

Even if you are indifferent to yards vs. metres, to get a better idea of what you are really paying, just convert the currencies:
  • 15.00 CAD x 0.7856 = 11.79 USD
  • 11.98 USD x 1.2729 = 15.25 CAD

Formula for Canadian Residents: Price in USD per yard x 1.09361 (yards to metres) x current USD to CAD FX rate = Price in CAD per metre.

Formula for U.S. Residents: Price in CAD per metre x 0.9144 x current CAD to USD FX rate = Price in USD per yard.

I hope you find this information helpful when comparison shopping for fabrics in different currencies and locales.

  • USD = U.S. dollar
  • CAD = Canadian dollar
  • FX = foreign exchange