Delving into price disparity

Price of so many identical items varies greatly between Canada and the United States

Are there legitimate reasons the price of so many identical items varies greatly between Canada and the United States?

If a laptop computer in Canada costs $200 more than its identical counterpart in the U.S., can retailers offer an explanation that will make sense to consumers?

More importantly, can retailers convince the federal government there is logic behind price disparities? They had better be able to as the Conservative government has taken steps to find out if the price gap equates to gouging.

This week, Industry Minister James Moore announced details of legislation that will give the Commissioner of Competition the power to convince companies to lower the price on items sold in Canada.

Many reasons have been cited for the often significant difference in the prices — taxes, the exchange rate and the wages paid in each country.

However, as the Conservatives noted in their 2014 budget, independent studies verified Canadians were paying between 10 and 25 per cent more than Americans for most products in 2011.

That fact remained after higher Canadian sales taxes and exchange-rate adjustments were calculated.

A few years ago, when the Canadian dollar reached par with the U.S. greenback (and even rose higher in value), booksellers announced a change in pricing.

Books that were historically much more expensive in Canada had their prices changed to match the cover price on the titles sold south of the border.

If the Conservative government finds that Canadians are paying more for a product that is cheaper in the U.S. simply because companies can get away with it, perhaps electronics and other goods will see similar price-tag changes.

It would be one more reason to continue to shop local — from coast to coast to coast.

~ Kamloops This Week