Honestly, I didn’t intend for this thread to get controversial. I know what I’m comfortable with doing and that’s all that matters to me.I agree that this has been a trend nationally. I also believe that part of the reason some of the local stores go out of business is because of lack of support by local musicians who buy online to save a few dollars. FWIW I checked the "retail" prices the OP was quoted for those makes and models and they are quite competitive with the online prices I found, in some cases even less.
I feel like I should respond to the “buying online” concept. I’ll be buying online, but these online stores are local brick and mortar stores across the pond, Dawkes in the UK, for example, owned and operated by 3 generations of the same family. I don’t feel bad about buying from them (over my local chain store) whatsoever.
And as for pricing, I already mentioned that I will be saving CAD$1,000 on a Yani AWO1 by buying from the UK, such as Dawkes or Sax.co.uk (these are just 2 examples). This is partly due to the weak pound, and partly due to other factors, but I think $1k savings on a $4,425 sax is SIGNIFICANT. And yes, I’ve already included shipping and customs/brokerage fees.