Business Blog

What the weaker loonie means for Whatcom County

Photos of Canadian currency, taken Jan. 17, 2013.
Photos of Canadian currency, taken Jan. 17, 2013. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

The Toronto Star has an excellent article titled "9 things to know about a 90-cent loonie." Here's a (link) to the article.

With the Canadian dollar dropping down to 89 cents on Thursday, Jan. 23, it's now falling into the range that could lead to a slowdown in Canadian shoppers traveling into Whatcom County. 

Doug Porter, chief economist at the Bank of Montreal, estimates that an exchange rate of around 88 cents would roughly equalize prices on a typical basket of goods in Canada and the U.S. It's now getting to the point that it doesn't pay for the average Canadian shopper to make the trip.

Canadians will continue to make the trip south, Porter noted in a graphic about the topic, but the three-to-one ratio of Canadians vs. Americans crossing the border last year will start to shrink.

If the loonie continues to weaken, it could be a boon for British Columbia tourism as Americans begin visiting Canada more often to take advantage of the stronger U.S. dollar. If B.C. picks up in tourism popularity, that could mean more folks from the Seattle area traveling through Whatcom County. Seattle residents traveling through probably won't be as interested in the Bellingham Costco, except to pick up some goods/gas while heading into Canada, but they might check out local points of interest, from Fairhaven to local farms.

It'll be interesting to see how this area adjusts if a weaker loonie sticks around.