Online Guide for Newcomers to Prince Edward Island, Canada

Some Shopping Tips

The following are some tips and information to help you with shopping in PEI.

Shopping Baskets, Carts, and Bags

Many stores have shopping carts or baskets to help you carry the items you are buying while you are in the store.

At checkout, many stores, especially grocery stores, encourage you to use your own reusable shopping bags to carry the items out. If you do not have any reusable bags, you may have to pay a small amount for plastic bags from the store. You can buy reusable bags for less than one dollar at most larger grocery stores.

Paying for Purchases

In most stores, you pick up the items you want to buy and take them to the cashier to pay. The cashier will add up your bill. It is important that you check that the right amounts are charged for the items you are buying. The amount you have to pay will be displayed on the cash register.

Receipts and Returns

You should get a receipt for everything you buy. It is a proof of purchase that shows what, when, where, and how much you paid for an item.

It is important to keep your receipts. If you need to return something you bought (because it is not suitable, it has a defect, etc.), take your receipt with the item and all the packaging back to the store where you bought it. Return policies are different from store to store. They can range from no return policy (all sales final) to one week, or one month. Sometimes a store that usually accepts returns has certain items on sale that can not be returned.


Some items you buy have warranties. This means that either the store or the manufacturer (sometimes both) provides a guarantee that if the purchased item breaks in a certain period of time or does not work at all, you can return it and get your money back, or exchange the item for another one.

It is a good idea to check if an item has a warranty before you buy, especially if it is an expensive one.

Comparative Shopping

Prices for the same or similar items may change from store to store. Remember to compare prices.

If you are going to pay a lot of money to buy something, it is a good idea to find out some information about the item you are thinking of buying before you buy it. Ask friends, relatives or neighbours for their opinion about the item you are thinking of buying. You can also research consumer reports or reviews on the Internet to compare prices and product quality.

Sales and Advertising

During sales, stores reduce the prices of some items for a short period of time. These items will usually be marked with a special sticker or price tag. A sales price can mean a percentage off (for example, 20% off the original price), a dollar amount (for example, $10 off the original price), buying multiple items (for example, buy two items and get one for free), or no sales tax.

Sometimes advertising or ads can be misleading. Ask questions about additional fees or parts that must be purchased (for example, the computer might be on sale, but you might have to purchase the power cable separately). Think about what you see on sales signs -- the advertisers like to trick you into buying something you don't need, or into thinking that something is less expensive when it really is not.

Some typical advertising tricks:
0.99% Big zero, small .99 - this actually means you have to make a 1% cash payment before getting financing for an expensive item, such as a car - the amount could be in the thousands.
$199.99 Glancing at this price tag makes you think the item costs up to 100 dollars less than it actually does. It looks like a bit over $100 when it is actually almost $200. By the time you pay, with taxes, you will spend way over $200.
Big Savings Buying something on sale does not necessarily mean that you are saving money if you are buying something you do not need. If you are spending money, you are not saving it! You are just maybe paying a little less than regular price.
Lifetime Warranty Lifetime Warranty! Whose life - yours, the salesman's, or that of the product you are buying?
No Interest, No Payment Until 2011 No interest, no payments for the next 12 months -- very common sales trick for more expensive items, such as furniture. If you do not completely pay off the item you have bought within the 12 months, you may be charged very high, accumulated interest for all the time from the moment of purchase, often as high as 28%. You can take advantage of such an offer, but make sure to pay it off on time.

However, advertising is not all bad - the stores use it to inform you about new products, seasonal sales, etc. You just need to be smart and don't let it lead you into spending money on things you don't need, or even want.


A package of flyers with advertisements will be automatically delivered to most homes in PEI every week. In them, you will find information about sales in various Island stores, as well as reduced price coupons you can use when buying certain items in those stores. If you are on a modest budget, it is a good idea to look at the flyers and find information on the products you need to buy. Again, be careful not to spend money on advertised things that you don't need!


In Canada when you buy something in a grocery or department store you usually do not bargain or barter the price. However, you sometimes can barter for bigger items such as furniture, appliances, cars, or houses. You can also bargain when you are buying things from private sellers, for example, used items at garage sales, flea markets, or private sales.

Seasonal Shopping

Shopping in Canada changes with the seasons and the holidays. Winter clothing costs much more than summer clothing. It is a good idea to budget for this.

Shopping during seasonal sales can be a good way to spend less money. For example, it is a good idea to shop for school supplies during 'back-to-school' sales in August.

Related Resources

Consumer Information

Related Topic in this Guide

No Flyers

If you do not want to receive advertisement flyers, put the 'no flyers' sign in your window, on your door, or your mailbox, so it can clearly be seen by the delivery person.

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Online Guide for Newcomers to Prince Edward Island, Canada © by Immigrant & Refugee Services Association of PEI (IRSA) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

We have made every effort to ensure that the information in this Guide is accurate and up-to-date. If you find of any errors or omissions, please contact us.