Your Manitoba shopping guide

People shopping at the Real Canadian Superstore

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One of the first things that you will do when you get to Manitoba is to shop for supplies. Whether food, household goods, clothing, furniture or appliances, you will need to be familiar with the types of stores here so you’ll know where to go. Here are seven basic things (and some tips) that may be helpful to know before you go out on your shopping spree:

Types of stores

Grocery stores – these stores primarily sell food and basic necessities (such as toiletries and cleaning supplies). This is where you will find a variety of food items from fruits and vegetables to canned items. Also called a supermarket, there are more than 700 listed grocery stores in Manitoba. Among the most well-known include the Real Canadian Superstore, Walmart, Costco, Sobeys, and Safeway. Manitoba, being multi-cultural, also has many ethnic food stores or groceries. Read the article Craving for your favorite dish? You just might find it here to know where you can find food items that you are familiar with.

Department stores – these sell a wide variety of dry goods, from clothes and shoes to toys, furniture and electronics. Usually, these are arranged into sections so you can easily find what you need to buy. Some groceries have sections for dry goods too (such as Walmart and Costco) but most department stores offer a wider variety of merchandise.

Malls – this is where you can do one-stop shopping as it has several stores inside. Many large malls in Manitoba have restaurants, several department stores and specialty stores, as well as pharmacies, salons, clinics and optical shops.

Specialty stores – these are stores that sell a particular type of product or service, like music stores, book stores, pharmacies, flower shops, or electronics stores.

Farmer’s markets – these sell locally grown produce, meat, fish and dairy and sometimes even cooked food. The great thing about these markets is that you get fresh products while supporting local farms. Some markets open only during certain seasons so it would be good to check schedules before you go. The Farmers’ Markets Association of Manitoba website has a directory with exact locations and schedules. Meanwhile, St. Norbert Farmers’ Market has an online market. It is now open all year round.

Convenience stores – these are smaller than grocery stores and may carry a limited variety of goods. However, they also have goods and services that may not be available at bigger stores, such as newspapers, tobacco products, as well as postal services. They are open longer hours (some even 24 hours) but may charge higher prices than groceries.

Dollar stores, thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales – Dollar stores are shops that sell inexpensive items, many of them pegged at a dollar. Meanwhile, thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales feature used or second-hand items such as clothes, books, furniture, furnishings, and appliances. People go to these because of the variety of goods and the low prices. Also, second-hand stores, like the Salvation Army, use profits for charity work that help the community. Many neighborhood garage sales are held during summer. Just watch out for signages announcing them near your street.

Shopping hours and days

Most stores in Manitoba are open Mondays to Fridays, starting at 8:00 or 9:00 a.m., with some, like Superstore, closing as late as 10 or 11 p.m. Weekend schedules vary depending on the establishment. For instance, malls close earlier (6:00 p.m.). Always check online for holiday schedules since these are not fixed, although expect that many establishments are closed on statutory holidays.

Alcohol and tobacco products

Alcoholic drinks and tobacco products are sold only at licensed liquor marts, with some convenience stores selling tobacco products. Only persons 18 and above may enter and buy from liquor stores. Also, remember to put your purchase in the trunk of your car, sealed and unopened, to be on the safe side. Check the Manitoba Liquor Control Act for other regulations on the sale and transport of alcoholic drinks. Also, while you’re at it, check the Manitoba.ca page on smoking in public places to know the areas where you are not allowed to smoke.

Sales taxes

It is important to remember that the tag price is not the total amount that you will pay at the counter. Consumers pay the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as well as Provincial Sales Tax (PST), in addition to the total cost of the goods or services that they are buying. In Manitoba, GST is 5% while PST is at 8%. Learn more about the GST and PST and how they are computed from the Canada Revenue Agency website. As a newcomer, you may be eligible for the GST/Harmonized Sales Tax credit (HST) which is a benefit given quarterly to individuals or families with low or modest incomes. You apply for this automatically when you file your first income tax. You can learn more about the process here: Tax basics for newcomers.

Discounts and promotions

Every now then, special discounts or promotions are conducted at retail stores. They could be in various forms such as a percentage off the sale price of certain goods, buy-one-take-one deals, and even no tax days. You can check with stores for these events or through blogs (for instance Save Money in Winnipeg), advertisements, flyers, and on the specific establishment’s website. Boxing Day, December 26, is a big day for discount sales in most stores (similar to Black Friday in the US). Some post-Christmas promotions even go on for an entire week.

Returns and warranties

Always check a store’s return policy when you buy goods. This also goes for warranties for electronics, appliances and other equipment. Policies on these may vary depending on the establishment. To be on the safe side, always keep your receipt and the product’s original packaging in case you need to return it. If you bought a gift for someone but you are not sure if the size is correct, or whether he or she will like it, ask for a gift receipt. A gift receipt looks like an ordinary store receipt, except it does not have the item’s price. It allows the gift recipient to return or replace the item at the store if he or she chooses. Read your Consumer Rights and Responsibilities at the Manitoba.ca site to know more.

Be informed

It is best if you know your rights as a consumer and stay up to date about issues concerning rates of commodities. An easy way to do this is to sign up for consumer alerts by email at the Manitoba.ca site. These alerts inform you about the latest news and provide tips on consumer safety.

If your rights have been violated and need to file a complaint, read these guidelines from the Consumer Protection Office on how to file one. This office mediates and investigates consumer related complaints.

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Community Resources

Want to know practical ways to save money? Read this article: 5 top money saving tips for newcomers.

If you want to verify if the store you are transacting with is a legitimate business, one way is to go to the Better Business Bureau online to see if they are accredited. Keep in mind though, that not all legitimate businesses are BBB accredited. This article from the Canada Business Network site: How to verify if a business really exists may also help.

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Your Manitoba shopping guide

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