Latest News

Amazon Dash Button: Absurd, Mildly Helpful, Not Available in Canada Yet

By Kate Musgrove

Today Amazon.com launched a product so specific and ridiculous that many thought it must be an April Fool's Day joke. It's not -- it's a tiny, branded button allowing you to reorder your favourite products with one push. Now, instead of laboriously using their computer or mobile device to order products with one click, Americans can simply push a button that they've mounted near the products in question (reusable adhesive is included, of course). The product isn't available in Canada yet, but we'll let you know the second it is.

dash button

This is a similar product as their Amazon Dash remote that launched last year. The Dash is a handheld device that lets you reorder products by scanning their bar codes or dictating your requests. But while the Amazon Dash works for more than 500,000 different items in your home, the Amazon Dash Buttons each work for one item -- the item that they've been clumsily branded with. There's a limit of three Dash Buttons per household, a restriction I assume they've put in place to keep production costs low while people test the product. (The only thing more expensive than sending one plastic automatic-ordering Amazon widget to a customer so they can reorder a single item is sending ten of them to a customer so they reorder ten single items, right?) There's about 250 products available to order with the Amazon Dash Button and presumably each product available has it's own chubby, logo-laden button.

One of Amazon's strengths is that they're always innovating, and this product is certainly an innovation -- it's a completely new way to initiate your paper towel or laundry detergent order (but after the initial button press, everything is completed online as usual). It's also kind of absurd, unnecessary and I can't imagine it being anything but mildly helpful at best. Would you use one? If you did, what products would you want to use it for?

Not every ordering innovation from Amazon is quite so clunky -- they're also developing Dash Replenishment Service, a device that can be integrated with physical items to automatically reorder products you're getting low on. The examples Amazon gives are a coffee maker ordering more coffee beans or a pet food dispenser ordering more food. That seems like an idea that has merit and broad practical applications and I suspect is the sort of product integration (rather than chunky, branded, adhesive-included buttons) we'll be seeing a lot more of in the future.

Free Shipping Ends at Walmart.ca as of April 2, 2015

By Kate Musgrove

Since 2013, Walmart.ca has offered free shipping on all orders -- no matter how small. And about ten minutes after Target announced they were out of business in January of this year, people started wondering when they would begin to charge. Their reasoning (and mine) was that free shipping on all orders was acting as a loss leader of sorts and wasn't sustainable in the long-run. So it was not much of a surprise when an announcement came out today that as of April 2, 2015, free shipping from Walmart with no minimum would be ending. Orders over $50 will ship for free and orders under $50 will ship for $4.97. Orders of any size will continue to ship to Canada Post or a Grab & Go Locker for free.

On one hand, moving from free shipping on all orders to free shipping on orders over $50 seems like too big of a shift, especially because many big retailers (such as Amazon, Indigo and Best Buy) offer free shipping on orders over $25. But, free shipping to Canada Post or a Grab & Go locker on an order of any size is a feature that none of aforementioned retailers offer. (Although Grab & Go Lockers are only inside of Walmart locations (and only in Toronto), so if you have to go to Walmart to pick up your Walmart order..... you might as well just go to Walmart, right?)

There are still some retailers in Canada offering free shipping on every order -- Lululemon, Dell.ca and MicrosoftStore.com are probably the biggest.

Future Shop: All Stores Closed Across Canada

By Kevin Ngai

The Canadian retail landscape is changing once more, as Future Shop closes its doors effective immediately. It was announced on Saturday, March 28 that all 131 Future Shop locations across Canada will be closed permanently and the brand will be consolidating with Best Buy.

future shop closed

All in all, 66 Future Shop stores will be closed for good and 65 stores will be temporally closed for about a week while they are converted into Best Buy stores. It's all part of the larger plan to consolidate the stores and websites under one name. It seems likely to us that the Future Shop stores that will not be rebranded are the ones currently located adjacent to a Best Buy.

Best Buy president & CEO Ron Wilson was quoted in a press release that “80 per cent of our customers are within a 15 minute drive to a store and this won’t change.” In all, some 1500 jobs are now gone. This includes 500 full-time and 1000 part-time employees. The statement adds affected employees will receive severance, employee assistance and outplacement support.

This is shaping up to be a brutal year for Canadian retail. However, Best Buy Canada says it will be investing up to $200 million into what it calls a multi-channel customer experience to boost it’s stores and online presence. An example of what we can expect is a new ship-from-store program, making in-store inventory available to online shoppers. This means customers can order items directly from their local retail store and have it delivered.

All Future Shop orders and warranties will be transferred over to Best Buy, who will also accept Future Shop returns and exchanges. If you have an open FutureShop.ca order, you can track your online order by following this link. For anyone with gift cards, they will be honoured online at BestBuy.ca and at all their retail store fronts. Click here for more details and FAQs.

Join our discussion in the forums to talk about this news.

When is Easter 2015? And What is Open?

By Kate Musgrove

Easter is coming up -- it's Sunday, April 5 in 2015! Here's a quick look at what's open and closed Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday this year.

target
  • The majority of stores, malls and shopping centres will be closed on Good Friday -- we've noted some exceptions below
  • Many tourist attractions, like museums, zoos, aquariums and restaurants, will be open on Good Friday
  • All government offices will be closed on Good Friday and most will also be closed on Easter Monday
  • All LCBO locations will be closed on Good Friday and Easter, with some also closed on Easter Monday
  • All BC Liquor Stores will be closed on Good Friday and Easter
  • All Banks are closed on Good Friday, virtually all are open on Easter Monday
  • Costco locations in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec are open on Good Friday and closed in the rest of Canada. Costco stores are open nationwide on Easter Monday.

In Toronto, both the Eaton Centre and the Loblaws at 60 Carlton Street will be open from 10 AM to 6 PM on both days. Additionally, the site of the Pacific Mall in Toronto says they are open 365 days a year!

Roundup: Letting Your Kid Buy a $14 Million Apartment, 5 Rules For Becoming a Millionaire + More

By Kate Musgrove

Here's a quick roundup of personal finance news, questionable advice and more from around the web!

  • Laurie Itkin says the first rule of becoming a millionaire before you're 40 is to invest every windfall. I feel like the first rule of becoming a millionaire before you're 40 is to actually receive windfalls? I'm not even saying she's wrong (having money is a great way to get more money), but I'm not sure it's a whole lot of help, either.
  • There are so many great things in this New York Times article about a 13-year old kid picking out a $14 million apartment for his parents to buy, and by "great things" I mean "portents of the apocalypse".
  • Target Canada is closing another 62 stores before Easter. That will leave just 55 stores in operation, and they'll all be closed before mid-May.
  • How well can you do on this great quiz comparing the prices of American Girl doll furniture with the prices of real, actual furniture for humans? I actually did really well (but I knew going in that there is a doll bed for dolls that costs $215 US.)

Target Has Started Closing Store Locations

By Kate Musgrove

The first Target stores are closing for good today. Three stores -- the Stratford, ON, Edmonton and Longueuil, QC locations -- will close at the end of the day on Wednesday, March 18. On Sunday, March 22, another 13 Target locations will close. These stores are:

target
  • 2000 Appleby Line, Burlington, ON
  • Chatham-Kent, ON
  • Fergus, ON
  • Kitchener, ON
  • Niagara Falls, ON
  • Oshawa, ON
  • Smith Falls, ON
  • Chilliwack, BC
  • Cranbrook, BC
  • 17th Ave SE, Calgary, AB
  • Medicine Hat, AB
  • 35 Lakewood Blvd, Winnipeg, MB
  • Saint-Georges, QC

All 133 locations are expected to close by mid-May. It's not completely clear what will happen to any unsold merchandise at the stores in the first wave of closures, although if you're a hardcore shopper it might be worth checking the stores near the closing stores for an influx of items.

Whichever Target location you're shopping at, please remember to be kind to the employees -- they're dealing with grumpy customers, impending unemployment and erratic schedules -- plus an explicit reversal of the agreement that any adjustments previously made to accommodate a new job will no longer be honoured.

Loblaws Now Discounting Ugly Fruit & Vegetables

By Kate Musgrove

Loblaws has taken a page out of the book of French retailer Intermarche by offering a discount on ugly fruits and vegetables. The program is currently very small, offering just misshapen apples and potatoes at the moment, but they hope to expand it by the end of the year.

ugly vegetable

The "Naturally Imperfect" line is available at No Frills and Real Canadian Superstore locations in Ontario and a small number of Maxi stores in Quebec.

While I appreciate the effort to feature perfectly good (but imperfect) fruits and vegetables, I'm skeptical that it's a meaningful move that will have a real impact on shoppers' buying decisions. This article says the produce will cost up to 30% less. As any savvy shopper knows, the wiggle room allowed in that "up to" 30% off claim means the actual discount could be much lower. And even at a full 30% off, I'm just not sure it's compelling enough. For reference, a 5 pound bag of Russet potatoes is $3.99 at Loblaws. 30% off would make them $2.80, which is better, but perhaps not so much better that people would say YES, I definitely want to buy these guaranteed imperfect potatoes!

Target Liquidation Sale: Shop Now or Later?

By Elaine Jair

Since Target's liquidation was announced, the burning question in everybody's mind was undoubtedly how good the clearance sale was going to be.

Liquidation officially began yesterday (February 5) and I ventured to my local Target to check out the sale in pursuit of the answer to that question. Upon arriving, I already noticed a stark difference in traffic. I had previously visited the same Target the day before, just to see if there was anything that caught my eye. The parking lot was pretty much empty, with roughly 15 cars or so. Inside the store, it was even emptier, with a handful of shoppers and less than 5 staff members walking around. Once liquidation began, that all changed.

There were no more empty spots in the parking lot and I could see a continuous stream of people entering the store, despite it being close to 8 PM. Once inside, the first thing I noticed was the huge line-ups at checkout -- everyone was pushing carts full of stuff and there were even more people walking around. So I thought to myself that the deals must be somewhat decent if everyone was buying something.

Let's just say that's not exactly the case.

First off, everything is up to 30% off. After perusing the entire store, I can safely say that at the moment, most items are a disappointing 10 to 20% off. Here are the discounts that I took note of:

  • Tablets (Samsung, Apple, e-Readers) - 5% off
  • Headphones - 10% off
  • Movies - 20% off
  • Toys - 20% off
  • Video Games - 10% off
  • Sporting Goods - 20% off
  • Valentine's Day & Easter decor and chocolates - 20% off
  • Stationary - 20% off
  • Grocery Items - 10% off
  • Cushions - 20% off
  • Cosmetics - 30% off
  • Greeting Cards/Gift Wrap - 30% off
  • Skincare and Hair Dye - 10% off
  • Fashion Accessories - 30% off
  • Clothes - 20% off
  • Bedding - 10% off
  • Baby - 10% off

So should you make the trip to Target right now? If you're looking to purchase video games or Target-exclusive merchandise, you will want to shop now rather than later. When I visited Target the previous day, everything was pretty well-stocked. By the time I went last night, the video game section (especially the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U games) was pretty much picked clean and all the Beaver Canoe items were quickly swiped off the shelves. Ladies, you'll really need to high-tail it to the cosmetics department, as those items were also being cleared out pretty fast (which isn't surprising, as that was where some of the better deals were). I'd also suggest stocking up on some Valentine's Day decor and chocolates now as well, since they generally won't be on sale at other retailers until after February 14. Similarly, greeting cards are a great deal now as well, especially since brands like Papyrus rarely ever go on sale and they are now available for 30% off.

In conclusion, aside from the aforementioned items, I'd suggest waiting to see if the discounts will increase. Liquidation has just started and is expected to run through May 15, so there's still quite a bit of time for prices to drop even more. Of course, whether or not you want to shop now would ultimately depend on how badly you want a particular item. You could wait around for a better deal, but gauging by how many people were shopping and will be shopping over the weekend, there's a chance the item could sell out before it even reaches that point.

Looking for more clearance information? Make sure to check out the Target Clearance Deals forum here.

Target Liquidation Sales to Start Thursday, February 5!

By Elaine Jair

We've been anxiously awaiting this moment -- it has just been confirmed that Target's liquidation will start on Thursday, February 5! Liquidation is expected to end by May 15, but since some stores will be closing earlier than others, some locations will end liquidation as early as the end of March. Apparently, merchandise will be discounted by up to 30% off, which we're sure is a bit disappointing to some. However, if you've eyeing some regular priced items that rarely go on sale, this is probably a good offer for you.

With the recent influx of customers seeking liquidation deals throughout the past two weeks, we wouldn't be surprised if stock levels are waning. In fact, a Target spokesperson even specified that many Targets no longer carry perishables such as milk, eggs and frozen foods. In that case, those of you who are planning on shopping the liquidation sale will want to shop earlier rather than later!

Be sure to check RFD's Target Clearance thread for the deals at your local Target!

Uniqlo to Open Two Flagship Stores in Toronto in Fall 2016!

By Elaine Jair

With the recent rush of retailers exiting the Canadian market (Target, Sony, Mexx, and Jacob, just to name a few), you'd think that the retail industry in Canada would be looking rather grim. However, popular Japanese clothing retailer, Uniqlo, is looking to buck that trend by announcing their plans to enter the Canadian market!

uniqlo

Rumours have been circulating about the impending arrival of Uniqlo and we've finally received some confirmation from the company. That's right -- Uniqlo has just announced that they have two flagship locations in Toronto slotted to open in the fall of 2016; one location will be at the Toronto Eaton Centre and one at Yorkdale Shopping Centre. With roughly 1,500 stores around the world, it's about time that Uniqlo has finally decided to expand to Canada. Not to mention, they're making sure you'll notice their arrival as these two planned stores will be pretty big; the Eaton Centre Uniqlo location measures 28,000 square feet, while the Yorkdale location measures 24,000 square feet.

For those of you who have shopped at Uniqlo locations before, you'll know that they sell everything from pants to tops to underpants to socks and more. Instead of following trends, Uniqlo designs fashionable basics that can be incorporated into anyone's wardrobe. Styles are typically priced at around $6 to $130 USD, which positions this retailer in direct competition with H&M and American Apparel.

As mentioned, these stores are planning to open in the fall of 2016, so there's still a bit of waiting, but the retailer is also already looking to recruit in Canada. Use #UniqloCanada on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, plus keep an eye out on RFD for more information!