Border traffic into Whatcom County continues to decrease

Southbound border traffic into Whatcom County in 2016 was the lowest in six years as the weak Canadian dollar continued to have an impact.

The number of people who went through the five Whatcom County border crossings totaled a little less than 12.5 million last year, nearly 900,000 fewer than in 2015, according to data from the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University.

Last year’s total was down about 23 percent compared with three years ago.

The loonie has been at less than 80 cents compared with the U.S. dollar since mid-2015 after a six-year run of being higher than that level.

The cross-border traffic influences Whatcom County retail trends. No significant boost in Canadian shopping is expected until the Canadian dollar hits at least 85 cents compared with the U.S. dollar, said Laurie Trautman, director at the research institute.

Signs are not pointing toward a strengthening Canadian dollar anytime soon, however. A Jan. 20 Bloomberg article indicates the Canadian dollar is set to weaken further if the protectionist policies discussed by President Donald Trump materialize. The Canadian dollar ended last week at 75 cents compared with the U.S. dollar.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz