Fewer cross-border shoppers are making the trek south now that the loonie is languishing.

Road trips to U.S. down sharply

Cross-border shopping in decline for B.C. bargain hunters as loonie languishes

Fewer B.C. residents are driving into the U.S. now that the loonie no longer goes as far south of the border.

New data for January, February and March from the Canada Border Services Agency shows there were nearly 14 per cent fewer trips by southbound Canadians at Lower Mainland land border crossings compared to the same months of 2014, and a nearly 20 per cent drop from 2013.

The loss of appetite for cross-border shopping was most apparent at the Aldergrove crossing, where trips were down 32 per cent from a year ago, and at Abbotsford-Huntington, which was down 18 per cent, while the decline was about eight per cent at the Peace Arch and Point Roberts crossings.

“This is tough sledding for the Whatcom County guys,” SFU marketing professor Lindsay Meredith said. “They’ll be suffering big time.”

Retailers in northern Washington depend heavily on Lower Mainland shoppers, he said, and their local governments, in turn, need the resulting flow of sales taxes to maintain services.

He noted the drop in southbound road trips closely mirrors the dive of the Canadian dollar.

The loonie is worth just over 80 cents U.S. as of Tuesday and has dipped to as low as 78 in recent weeks. That’s a 12 per cent drop from 91 cents U.S. a year ago.

Last year was the first year since 2009 that the loonie spent much time below 90 cents and it was close to par for much of 2010 through 2013.

Meredith said the shift is good news for Canadian businesses that now face less intense competition from U.S. retailers.

It may also mean more tax revenue for the province and even TransLink through its gas tax if B.C. families shop closer to home.

“Some of the tax dollars that used to go south and support their infrastructure will be staying here to support Canada,” Meredith said.

He also predicts a good year for tourism operators in B.C. as more Americans head north to take advantage of their strong greenback.

Tourism Vancouver has already recorded an 8.2 per cent increase in U.S. overnight visitors to Metro Vancouver in January.

Retail Council of Canada spokesman Mark Startup said he’s less sure Americans will come north because of the dollar differential, noting they don’t follow currency changes as closely as Canadians.

“It’s interesting that when the Americans have got massive spending power in relation to the Canadian dollar it seems to be less of an incentive for them,” he said.

“Americans will come into our members’ stores and purchase goods and often don’t realize how much further their dollars go.”

Startup said the decline in crossings isn’t surprising and added the drop in the dollar is clearly the main reason.

As a result, competition from U.S. retailers has faded as a prime concern of his members, Startup said.

“When we talk about the public policy and economic challenges that keep them up at night, cross-border shopping has fallen off the list.”

Startup said two other factors influence cross-border shopping – the ongoing advance of online retailing and the growth in foreign retailers operating in Canada, who he said offer easier access to products that in past years when a trip to the U.S. was required.

BORDER CROSSINGS | Create infographics

xe.com

Just Posted

Surrey woman with autism has scooter stolen from SkyTrain station

Kayla Polege purchased scooter after ‘shutdowns’ on transit

Phase three of ‘King George Hub’ development moves forward

Coast Capital Savings headquarters next to King George SkyTrain was phase one of the project

HOCKEY: Olympic dreams for Surrey teen now with Canada’s U18 team

Cloverdale’s Jenn Gardiner a third-year star with Comets of B.C. Female Major Midget League

OUR VIEW: Memories of the ‘strip’ still fresh

Can’t blame Surrey residents for being wary after the human tragedy of 135A Street

‘Quite a coup’ in rail-safety funding: South Surrey-White Rock MP

Relocation study not included in money for infrastructure improvements along waterfront train route

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

Off Nova Scotia, a bid to ‘unravel the mystery’ of great white sharks

The question: Is Nova Scotia the second mating site for Atlantic white sharks, something scientists say could be key to protecting the endangered species.

Man arrested after carjacking, collision, pepper spray attacks in Vancouver

Vancouver police say one man is in custody after a chaotic scene of events in the downtown core

Canadian investigator says World Anti-Doping Agency got a bad deal from Russia

A Canadian lawyer says the World Anti-Doping Agency rushed into accepting a bad deal by reinstating the country’s drug-testing program.

Fashion Fridays: Rock some animal print

Kim XO, lets you in on the latest fall fashion trends on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

New evacuations ordered because of Florence flooding

Emergency managers on Friday ordered about 500 people to flee homes along the Lynches River

B.C. doctor weighs in on the kid ‘screen time’ debate

A Maple Ridge mother opens up about her children’s use of tablets, smartphones and television

Volunteer-based safety team gets city funding to continue work in Vancouver

Good Night Out is a non-profit society that works to keep people safe at night on Granville Strip

Most Read