The Australia and New Zealand prices were incredible two years ago. We were talking 25% discounts or more, all the time, even on US made products. There are tremendous taxes on fishing equipment, here and abroad, and by exporting to another country, many of those taxes were avoided. And the US currency was very strong on the global market.
Since then a couple things have happened.
-Old inventories got cleared out, and stock was replaced at prices, which ECNM mentioned, are more acceptable to US distributors.
-The US economy tanked and foreign investments were pulled out. The dollar lost tremendous value on the global market. Between February and July of this year, I think that the dollar lost 15%+ to the Euro for example.
-9/11 - One byproduct was that goods being shipped into the US are scrutinized more than ever and that it became much more likely that you would be hit with a customs surcharge.
-US retailers dropped prices and offered rebates.
-Ebay became popular. No longer a domain of nerds and coupon cutters, it matured into a competitor of internet sellers.
So can you save money buying offshore? Sometimes. But not to the degree that you once could, with additional risk of customs surcharges that could make prices higher than domestically available, and with a level of inconvenience, which to my mind, no longer makes it worth it. Just my opinion and if I were outfitting a charterboat, I might feel differently than if I were buying 2 or 3 reels a year. What you can get offshore are products that are not made to be imported into the US. For example. The Shimano Trinidad existed in Japan for many years before it was ever imported here. Even today, Shimano has 2 or 3 times the variations of Calcuttas, Stellas, etc. that are available in Japan, but which may never be imported to the US. If you buy the products there and use them here, good luck if they break. But if you are the curious sort, there are a lot of toys out there just a click or two away, especially if you read Kanji
Back to the topic. I believe that there is less room for discounting than there ever has been. Once in a while, when a manufacturer has a hard time moving product, there may be additional discounts available to the dealer (just like automobiles) that can be passed on, but by and large, your local tackle shop is making less money on a reel than you spend on lunch. If you find a deal, good for you. If you are going to spend the same money for a product from the internet/mail order (Cabela's) or at a big chain (Sports Authority), you would be helping yourself in the long run by spending it at your favorite local bait and tackle shop.