8 Smart Tips For Cross-Border Shopping in Buffalo
If you’re looking for a quick day trip from Toronto and a productive shopping trip in one, Buffalo is the perfect city to visit. Not only is the merchandise selection different than what you’ll find in T.O., but the prices are often better too (even with the current exchange rate!) To learn our tricks of the trade for shopping in this nearby U.S. city, check out our 8 tips for cross-border shopping in Buffalo below.
1. Plan Your Itinerary in Advance
Deciding which spots you plan on visiting in Buffalo ahead of time is always a good idea so that you can plan out your day(s) accordingly.
Some shopping destinations we highly recommend are:
- Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA (1900 Military Rd, Niagara Falls, NY)
- Stores: Marshalls, Cole Haan Outlet, Saks Off 5th, Banana Republic Factory Store, J. Crew Factory (click here for the full directory)
- Boulevard Mall (730 Alberta Dr, Amherst, NY)
- Stores: Macy’s, Express, Victoria’s Secret (click here for the full directory)
Boulevard Mall Surrounding Area:
- Trader Joe’s (1565 Niagara Falls Blvd, Buffalo, NY)
- Target (1575 Niagara Falls Blvd, Amherst, NY )
- Nordstrom Rack (1579 Niagara Falls Blvd, Amherst, NY)
- Ulta Beauty (1701 Niagara Falls Blvd #100, Amherst, NY)
- TJ Maxx (3050 Sheridan Dr, Amherst, NY)
Walden Galleria Mall (1 Walden Galleria, Buffalo, NY)
- Stores/Restaurants: Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Express, Zara, Forever 21, The Cheesecake Factory, PF Chang’s (click here for the full directory)
2. Look for Coupons & Visitor Passes
Many stores/malls in Buffalo offer coupons and visitor passes that can help increase your cross-border savings even further. For example, at Macy’s you can get 10% off with their Visitor Savings Pass, and the Fashion Outlet also offers a Savings Pass to save you 10% or more at participating stores. Make sure to check out the websites of all the spots you plan on visiting to see what deals are available!
3. Use Cash & Convert Your Money Beforehand
While credit cards are a convenient way to pay for your purchases in Buffalo, most Canadian credit cards charge foreign transaction fees; so unless you have a U.S. credit card, cash is always the best method of payment!
Also, in terms of getting your cash, make sure to convert your money to the U.S. before your trip across the border so that you can look for the best exchange rate.
4. Consider Staying Overnight for Larger Duty-Free Allowances
Although Buffalo makes for the perfect day trip from Toronto, you may want to consider staying overnight in order to receive a larger duty-free allowance. For example, Canadians who visit the U.S. for less than 24 hours aren’t entitled to a duty-free allowance (meaning you’ll probably have to pay duty at the border when coming back into Canada). However, if you stay longer than 24 hours, your allowance increases to $200 per person, and if you stay longer than 48 hours, your allowance increases to $800 per person.
If you do your research, you can likely find a suitable hotel that meets your budget for one or two nights. A lot of hotels in Buffalo actually offer discounted rates for visitors coming from Canada!
5. Avoid Visiting During Peak Times
In terms of time of day to arrive in Buffalo, the earlier the better (the stores usually open around 9:30/10am). This way you’ll have the whole day to spend there if you’re just doing a day trip, and you’ll likely avoid heavy traffic near the border.
In terms of the actual day of the week to visit, we recommend going mid-week if you can (weekends are usually a lot busier). And in terms of time of year, you should avoid going on major American or Canadian holidays like Black Friday or Boxing Day – unless you don’t mind insane crowds and long wait times!
6. Pick the Right Border Crossing & Consider Getting NEXUS
Although the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge is a popular border crossing for Torontonians, you’re likely to get through the Rainbow Bridge much faster as it has a higher number of lanes. You might also want to consider getting a NEXUS card so that you can whiz through your border crossings even quicker (however, it’s worth noting that every person in the car must have NEXUS in order to use the designated lanes).
7. Shop Online & Ship to the Border
As we all know, one of the most annoying things about shopping online from Canada is finding something you like on a U.S. site, only to be hit with astronomical duty and shipping fees. But if you’re planning a cross-border trip to Buffalo anyways, why not shop whatever you want online and then ship it to a U.S. address where you can pick it up? CBI is a great company to use, as it costs only $5.95 USD for them to hold your package (for as long as you want), and it’s located right near the border!
8. Fill Up on Gas Before You Leave
One final tip: before you leave Buffalo, you should definitely fill up on gas as it’s usually much cheaper in the U.S. than in Canada. Plus, you’ll need it for the ride home!
Do you have any tips for cross-border shopping in the U.S.? Let us know in the comments!
Featured Image: studio5p-architects.com
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Faryn is a Toronto-based writer and lover of all things fashion, beauty and pop culture. When she’s not typing away, you can find her checking places off her restaurant bucket list, planning an upcoming vacay or curled up with a good reality TV binge.