Is a Black Friday road trip really worth it? We do the math.

Black Friday TV Shopping

We Winnipeggers love a good deal. So while our American neighbours are prepping for Thanksgiving, we’re flipping through flyers and thinking about loading up the car for a Black Friday shopping trip to Grand Forks.

But now that Canadian stores have adopted Black Friday deals, is it still worth making the trip? How much does cross-border shopping on Black Friday actually save you?  

[Before you read the rest of this, an important disclaimer. Sales are meant to encourage us to shop – sometimes for things we don’t actually need or can’t afford. So remember: even if there’s a discount, if you weren’t going to buy it before the sale, you’re not actually saving money!

Already budgeted for it and are just looking for the best price? Read on!]

TV vs TV

We crunched the numbers on one of Black Friday’s most popular items – the big-screen TV.

One of the biggest deals advertised in Grand Forks is a brand name 60” smart TV. It will be going for $799.99 USD in Grand Forks – the store claims that’s a whopping $700 off! Locally, the same TV will be going for $1499.99 CAD. But is the deal as good as it looks?



Grand Forks TV 


Winnipeg TV 
Advertised Price  $799.99 USD  $1499.99
Taxes + $54.00 USD + $195.00
Convert to Canadian Dollars  + $295.00  + $0.00
 Duty*  + $149.37  + $0.00
 Actual TV Price  $1298.36 CAD  $1694.99 CAD

But wait - there's more.

Cost of the trip

The trip to Grand Forks itself costs money. Let's assume our bargain-savvy Manitobans are hitting the road as a couple, driving together, staying just one night.

Gas (driving a fuel-efficient compact car)   $30.00
Hotel (one night in a chain hotel)  $100.00
Food (eating mostly fast food at $10 per meal per person)  $120.00
Total Travel Costs  $250.00 CAD

So what DO you actually save?

Add the cost of the trip to the price of the TV, and the total cost to buy it in Grand Forks is....


meaning by making the trip, you'll save a grand total of


compared to buying the same TV locally on Black Friday

What looked like a $700 price difference ended up being a fraction of that. For items with a smaller discount, you may end up paying more than you would locally.

Big sales events, especially ‘limited time’ and ‘limited amount’ specials, encourage you to buy quickly and not compare as much as you might another time. If you make the trip, you might also feel like you SHOULD buy something just because you already went all that way. Avoid the trap - if you're planning to shop on Black Friday, make sure the deal is worth the drive to you first!

Some links to help out:

Calculate North Dakota sales tax
Duty and Taxes Estimator
Convert US dollars to Canadian dollars

*because they stayed only one night, the TV was higher than their $200 duty free allowance. If they stayed two nights, they would have saved on duty...but had to pay for an extra day of hotel and food.