Market Report: Canadian dollar worth watching in coming months

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 8, 2014 

Canadian Money

Photos of Canadian currency, taken Jan. 17, 2013.

MATT MCDONALD — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

The Canadian dollar was on the mind of many Whatcom County retailers in January.

The loonie had its worst January in 42 years in 2014, losing 4.5 percent of its value as the currency dropped below 90 cents compared to the U.S. dollar.

The reason the weakening Canadian dollar is of interest to Whatcom County retailers is that it is reaching a level where driving down to the U.S. for discounts for many products is not worthwhile for Canadian consumers. Several economists believe that break-even point for a basket of groceries is in the 85-88 cent range.

In the first week of February the loonie appeared to stabilize around 90 cents, but it's worth keeping an eye on because for the past four years the strong loonie has had a significant impact on local retail sales.

Significant local business events that took place in January and early February:

-- A longtime local machine shop was sold to an international company that is intent on growing it in this area. Trulife, which has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, acquired Bellingham's Pro CNC at the end of January. No immediate changes are expected for the Bellingham facility.

-- The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry has selected Guy Occhiogrosso as its next CEO, replacing interim CEO Bill Gorman.

-- Wayne Langei of Whatcom Educational Credit Union is planning to retire after 41 years as CEO. The board announced it plans to announce a new CEO in August, with Langei staying on as a consultant from August until January 2015.

-- The Regal Bellis Fair Cinemas 6 movie theater had its final screenings of second-run movies on Sunday, Jan. 26.

-- One of the world's largest fashion retailers has announced it is opening a store at Bellis Fair later this year. In a news release, H&M said it will be occupying about 19,000 square feet, about twice the size of the Forever 21 store at the mall.

-- La Quinta Inn & Suites has become the latest to add hotel rooms to the northern part of the city. The hotel at 1063 W. Bakerview Road, near the Fred Meyer retail center, officially opened on Tuesday, Dec. 31 and had a grand opening on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Whatcom County quarterly retail sales

Q3 2013: $915.3 million

Q2 2013: $853.2 million

Q3 2012: $860.9 million

Quarterly change: up 12.1 percent

Year-over-year change: up 7.7 percent

Seven-year quarterly high: $915.3 million, third quarter 2013

Seven-year quarterly low: $624.4 million, first quarter 2009

Whatcom County bankruptcies

December 2013 43

November 2013: 38

December 2012: 43

Monthly change: up 13.2 percent

Year-over-year change: no change

Seven-year monthly high: 83, February 2010

Seven-year monthly low: 11, February 2006

Whatcom County new auto sales

December 2013: 389

November 2013: 243

December 2012: 276

Monthly change: up 60 percent

Year-over-year change: up 40.9 percent

Seven-year monthly high: 553, May 2006

Seven-year monthly low: 140, December 2008

Whatcom County residential sales

January 2014: 148

December 2013: 201

January 2013: 142

Monthly change: down 26.4 percent

Year-over-year change: up 4.2 percent

Eight-year monthly high: 398, August 2007

Eight-year monthly low: 104, February 2009

Unincorporated Whatcom County building permit values

December 2013: $5.3 million

November 2013: $6.1 million

December 2012: $3.7 million

Monthly change: down 13.1 percent

Year-over-year change: up 43.2 percent

Six-year monthly high: $65.3 million, July 2011

Six-year monthly low: $2.6 million, January 2012

Whatcom County foreclosures

December 2013: 16

November 2013: 17

December 2012: 79

Monthly change: down 5.9 percent

Year-over-year change: down 79.7 percent

Seven-year monthly high: 153, April 2009

Seven-year monthly low: 16, December 2013

Median price of homes sold in Whatcom County

January 2014: $251,750

December 2013: $255,000

January 2013: $235,000

Monthly change: down 1.3 percent

Year-over-year change: up 7.3 percent

Eight-year monthly high: $280,450, May 2007

Eight-year monthly low: $208,000, November 2011

Whatcom homes newly listed for sale

January 2014: 300

December 2013: 165

January 2013: 288

Monthly change: up 81.6 percent

Year-over-year change: up 4.2 percent

Eight-year monthly high: 707, May 2007

Eight-year monthly low: 131, December 2011

Bellingham airport traffic

December 2013: 46,486

November 2013: 42,562

December 2012: 48,486

Monthly change: up 9.2 percent

Year-over-year change: down 4.1 percent.

Seven-year monthly high: 61,402, March 2013

Seven-year monthly low: 12,597, September 2010

Canadian dollar

End of January 2014: 90 cents

End of December 2013: 94 cents

End of January 2013: $1

Eight-year high: $1.07, November 2007

Eight-year low: 77 cents, March 2009

Southbound Canadian border crossings into Whatcom County

December 2013: 1,323,265

November 2013: 1,233,257

December 2012: 1,290,481

Monthly change: up 7.3 percent

Year-over-year change: up 2.5 percent

Seven-year monthly high: 1,786,840, August 2013

Seven-year monthly low: 645,792, October 2006

Bellingham building permit values

January 2014: $8.4 million

December 2013: $3.0 million

January 2013: $17.8 million

Monthly change: up 180 percent

Year-over-year change: down 52.8 percent

Eight-year monthly high: $47.3 million, December 2009

Eight-year monthly low: $1.1 million, November 2008

Ferndale building permit values

December 2013: $1.5 million

November 2013: $2.7 million

December 2012: $2.5 million

Monthly change: down 44.4 percent

Year-over-year change: down 40 percent

Six-year monthly high: $12.9 million, July 2007

Six-year monthly low: $0.2 million, January 2009

Whatcom County construction jobs

December 2013: 5,200

November 2013: 5,700

December 2012: 5,700

Monthly change: down 8.8 percent

Year-over-year change: down 8.8 percent

Seven-year monthly high: 8,600, September 2006

Seven-year monthly low: 4,900, January 2013

Whatcom County unemployment

Whatcom December 2013: 6.4

Whatcom November 2013 (revised): 6 percent

Whatcom December 2012: 7.1

State November 2013 (seasonably adjusted): 6.6 percent

Nation November 2013 (seasonably adjusted): 6.7 percent.

Seven-year monthly high: 10.4 percent, February 2010

Seven-year monthly low: 3.7 percent, October 2007

Sources: Washington State Department of Revenue; U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Washington; Cross-Sell; Washington State Department of Licensing; Northwest Multiple Listing Service; Whatcom County Planning and Development Services; Bank of Canada; Port of Bellingham; RealtyTrac; Center For Economics and Business Research, Western Washington University; City of Bellingham; City of Ferndale; Washington State Employment Security Department.

Market Report runs each month.

Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2269.

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