There’s little doubt that the changes to cross-border shopping limits that went into effect on June 1 are popular among the Canadian shopping public.
The duty-free threshold for Canadian shoppers staying longer than 24 hours rose from $50 to $200, while the limit on 48-hour stays increased from $400 to $800.
A Canadian Press-Harris Decima poll released in June suggested that about 70 per cent of Canadians supported the higher duty-free limits, and 80 per cent of vacationers to the U.S. liked the changes.
In fact, 54 per cent of those planning a trip down south said they intended to spend more money as a result of the new cross-border shopping changes.
Yet, when Treasury Board President Tony Clement spoke to the Brandon Sun editorial board last Friday, he said he didn’t think the federal changes would have much of an impact in Brandon or on retailers.
“I feel by harmonizing, we reduce the paperwork, the irritants about doing cross-border visitation and at the end of the day, if people are going to buy next door to us, they are going to buy next door to us,” Clement said.
Minister Clement should know better than that. Any Canadian dollar spent in the U.S. is a dollar not spent locally.
Canadian retailers also remain at a disadvantage — a study published by the Bank of Montreal last April found that consumer items are still on average 14 per cent more expensive in Canada. The same report suggests Canadian store owners were already losing about $20 billion per year to cross-border shopping as it was.
And more than doubling the cross-border shopping limits won’t have any effect? Looks to us like the Tories scored a few cheap political points on the backs of Canadian retailers.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 17, 2012