BUSINESS

Holiday Cross-Border Shopping Down, Canadian Sales Up, Retail Council Says

12/30/2014 08:04 EST | Updated 03/01/2015 05:59 EST
Canadians did less cross-border shopping this holiday season compared to previous years, says the Retail Council of Canada.

The council says Canadians did a lot of shopping overall.

"The exchange rate put a dent in cross-border shopping," said Michael Leblanc, a spokesman for the council.

The loonie was worth less than 90 cents US in the weeks leading into Christmas, and is now hovering around 86 cents.

Mark Satov, president and founder of Satov Consulting in Toronto, also said the falling loonie likely kept people home.

"When you do a price parity comparison, and you go and see what that jacket is selling for in Buffalo, it's getting more and more expensive as the Canadian dollar drops," he said.

So, Canadians spent more at home, for a few reasons, Leblanc said.

"The lower price of gas put more disposable income on the table, so that probably meant a few more presents under the tree," Leblanc said.

Oil prices have fallen well over 40 per cent since the summer. Just a week before Christmas, the average cost of gasoline in Canada dropped below $1 a litre. It had not been that low in 4½ years.

The mild weather across the country also helped sales, Leblanc said.

In Windsor, Ont., with Detroit less than two kilometres away, no snow was recorded leading up to Christmas. During the week before Christmas, temperatures were above average.

Transactions, spending rose, Moneris says

Noah Tepperman, who co-owns a local furniture and appliance store in Windsor, says sales are definitely better this year than last year.

"The Boxing Day promotion was one of our all-time best in terms of not only customer traffic, but certainly customer purchases, without question," Tepperman said. "It was the best since the economic downturn of  2007, 2008, so we really are just pleased."

According to Moneris, Canada’s largest processor and acquirer of debit and credit card payments, sales were up this year overall.

Comparing this year's last Saturday before Christmas to last year's final Saturday before Christmas:

- The amount spent per transaction was up by about 10 per cent.

- Total dollars were also higher, up by about four to five per cent.

Looking at numbers from the start of December, spending was also higher. It was up by about 5.6 per cent in the first two weeks of December, compared to last year.

Spending on clothes and apparel was slightly higher, while electronics purchases were down.

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