American retailers hoping to entice Canadian customers

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Merged Flag of Canada and USA
3D rendering of a merged Canadian-USA flag on satin texture. Concept of the mutually influential relations between the two countries politically and economically.

With the weak Canadian dollar, many retailers located just south of the border are seeing a significant drop in retail spending. As a result, some are considering the creation of special deals for Canadian spenders in a bid to get them back.

Businesses in Bellingham, Washington—situated just south of the B.C. border—have been especially affected by this. “We see anywhere from a 20, to 25, sometimes 30 per cent drop, most of the time that comes in the form of retail spending at large retailers,” says Guy Occhiogrosso, the president and CEO of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce.

Occhiogrosso notes that it is the large box stores that are being most impacted by this, while the town’s “mom and pop” retailers aren’t seeing a difference.

According to Statistics Canada, the number of Canadians who travelled to the U.S. in May 2016 was 3.413 million, compared to 3.855 million in May 2015, making for a drop of over 400,000. As such, retailers in the area are scrambling to cushion this decrease before feeling its effects even more strongly.

Loni Rahm, president and CEO of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, agrees that businesses in the area recognize the value of Canadian shoppers.

“Our economies are so tightly tied between Whatcom County and lower British Columbia, so that of course, we hurt when you hurt, you hurt when we hurt,” she says. Rahm adds that a number of hotels and stores are offering at-par sales, or some other sort of “Canadian special.”

As other American communities begin to catch onto these trends, ensure that you are prepared to compete. Make note of the discounts and deals that south-of-the-border retailers are offering to your prospective clients, and consider presenting them as well. Conversely, consider attracting American clients across the border to your location: with the Loonie working in their favour, you’re sure to find some success.

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