Hi Sherry --
There is a UK distribution center. Most of what I get from the store comes from the UK to Canada. So the question should be why they aren't using that to service customers in Europe? The last items I was sent in December all came from the UK, although on occasion I get material from the US as well. In the case of Canada they ship from the US routinely, but if something isn't available in the US, they then will ship from the UK instead.
But on the gift, please DO NOT suggest that it be labeled a gift on the tag with no value. A gift being sent from a corporation? It always flags the item for customs in my case. Which results in the 'gift' being opened, examined, sometimes damaged, and delays things quite a bit. Even a gift must be assigned value in Canada on our customs declaration, and not doing so only makes the package look suspicious. The last package, the 3-D dance mixes, were sent with a low value on the customs declaration, and that worked far better (I think it was listed as $5). And yes, in Canada, it is the law, that customs duty can be charged on gifts. I've added the documentation below. You can see it clearly states that a gift cannot be sent by a business. And in the past marking these as gifts has caused hassle for some. It will likely be different for every country. I know it sucks having to pay duty on a gift, but attempting to get around that by setting it to a zero value or marking it as a gift only raises suspicions and increases the chances you aren't going to get the gift or it will be heavily delayed.
From the Canada Customs and Border Agency website:
For an item to qualify as a "gift", a friend or relative must send it to you personally and include a card or other notice indicating that it is a gift.
If you receive an imported gift by mail that is worth CAN$60 or less, you will not have to pay duty and/or tax on it.
If the gift is worth more than CAN$60, you will have to pay any applicable duty and/or taxes on any amount over CAN$60.
For example, if a relative sends you a gift worth CAN$200, you must pay any applicable duty, GST or HST and/or PST on CAN$140.
Items that do not qualify for the CAN$60 gift exemption include the following:
advertising material; and
items sent by a business.
As well, the CAN$60 gift exemption cannot be combined with the CAN$20 exemption that is available on most items valued at CAN$20 or less.