Here’s something Whatcom retailers can cheer about

Cars head to the U.S. at the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine.
Cars head to the U.S. at the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Whatcom County saw more Canadians during the holiday shopping season, possibly providing a boost to local store sales.

Nearly 12.6 million people crossed southbound through the five border crossings into Whatcom County, a 1 percent increase compared to 2016.

Perhaps more significant to Whatcom County retailers, the southbound border traffic topped 3 million during the fourth quarter, a 6 percent increase compared to a year ago. That’s according to data compiled by the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University.

Cross-border traffic into Whatcom County was particularly strong in December, the peak time for Christmas shopping.

That month more than 1 million people traveled southbound into Whatcom County, an 8.6 percent increase compared to December 2016. Official retail sales numbers aren’t expected to be released by the state until this spring.

During the fourth quarter the Canadian dollar was between 78 cents and 82 cents compared to the U.S. dollar, stronger than the first half of 2017.

This is the first time in five years that Whatcom County has posted a year-over-year increase in southbound border traffic – it peaked in 2013, when 16.2 million crossed the border.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz