If you're anywhere near a local mall these days there's good chance you'll spot even more Canadian license plates than usual. That's because the Canadian dollar has grown stronger and now goes further at U.S. Stores.
Better selection and lower taxes on this side of the border have long drawn Canadians. "We're saving a lot more because the taxes are lower," says Marianne Bolonga of Niagara Falls, Ontario who was shopping with a friend on Wednesday at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, NY.
"Pretty much you can't get the brands back in Canada so just better to come over here I guess," says Blair Fontana, a Canadian shopping for clothes at the Fashion Outlets.
The stronger Canadian dollar is now adding even more incentive to cross the bridge into Western New York. "The dollar's at par," says Canadian Peter Ortnburg, shopping with his wife and young son, "Thought we'd take advantage of at least the exchange and see what we can find for a deal."
This is the first time since 2008 that the Loonie has pulled even with the U.S. dollar, and Canadian shoppers tell Eyewitness News that they're noticing their increased buying power at Western New York stores. "Four pairs of shoes for the cost of one pair at the same store in the factory outlet mall in Canada," says Bolonga.
"Outlet shopping is all about value and savings and offering that and we're seeing that everybody wants to save," says Mary Whelan, General Manager at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, NY. Canadian shoppers are particularly important to the Fashion Outlets since it's so close to the border. Whelan says their focus on designer stores keeps luring Canadians even through times when the Loonie has dropped such as between 2008 and now.
"We've brought in designers that are offering values that are nowhere else in this market," explains Whelan, "Hugo Boss or Escada or Nike... all of the new designers, Michael Kors, that's where we see the traffic continuing."
Bologna and her friend Lisa Uhm from Niagara Falls, Ontario say the designers, the lower taxes, and now the more favorable exchange rate definitely make the trip worthwhile, even if it makes them feel a bit like traitors. "It's just so much cheaper than going over there (Canada)," says Uhm, "Don't shop in Canada. Shop over here. Ha ha."
The Walden Galleria also reports that sales are up at their stores lately, but the Galleria manager adds that they can't say for sure that it is a direct result of the Canadian dollar's strength.