Bellis Fair’s ‘Canada discount’ works for Whatcom residents, too

The front of Bellis Fair Mall is pictured on Tuesday, May 17, in Bellingham.
The front of Bellis Fair Mall is pictured on Tuesday, May 17, in Bellingham. eabell@bhamherald.com

It’s a sale to attract Canadian shoppers into Whatcom County for the holiday weekend, but local shoppers will be able to get in on the savings as well.

Participating stores at Bellis Fair are having an At Par Sale Friday, May 20, through Monday, May 23 for the Canadian Victoria Day holiday weekend. Canadians and Whatcom County residents who show identification can get a discount at the register based on the exchange rate on Friday, said Rene Morris, general manager at Bellis Fair.

This event is for locals, too. That’s the only way we would hold this event.

Rene Morris, general manager, Bellis Fair

For example, if the Canadian dollar is at 75 cents compared to the U.S. dollar, customers will receive a 25 percent discount at the register.

The maximum limit of the At Par discount will be 25 percent, according to a mall news release. As of Tuesday, May 17, the Canadian dollar was at 77 cents compared to the U.S. dollar.

“This event is for locals, too,” Morris said. “That’s the only way we would hold this event.”

So far about 35 percent of the Bellis Fair stores are participating, including Macy’s and JC Penney, with more being added leading up to the event, Morris said. Some exclusions may apply on certain brands. Customers should look for a sticker of American/Canadian flags in store windows to find stores that are participating.

Loni Rahm, president and CEO of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, told the Vancouver Sun newspaper the promotion is meant to bring back casual and spontaneous shoppers, those who maybe don’t live as close to the border for whom trips south are more of a rarity.

Cross-border shopping in Whatcom County has slowed since the Canadian dollar began weakening at the beginning of 2015 when it dropped below 85 cents.

The number of travelers going through the five southbound border crossings into Whatcom County dropped 15 percent in the first quarter of 2016 compared to a year earlier. That’s according to data from Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute. The loonie had dropped to 68 cents in January, making many goods sold in British Columbia a better deal for shoppers.

Several Whatcom County hotels also are offering deals to Canadians for the holiday weekend. Oxford Suites, which is near Bellis Fair at 4051 Meridian St., is offering 25 percent off the rate on premium room types for Canadians. The 99-room hotel opened last August with the hope that it would attract Canadian visitors, but the opening came at a time when the loonie was weakening.

Overall hotel bookings have gone well, with the drop-off in Canadian traffic being made up in other areas, including business travelers, said Dan Stultz, general manager of the Bellingham Oxford Suites. The hotel also is getting strong advance bookings for this spring and summer, particularly for weddings and graduations, he said.

The hotel didn’t see a huge spike of Canadian travelers when they offered this special earlier this year, but they are seeing more bookings for this weekend because it is getting more attention in Canada, Stultz said. Other Bellingham hotels offering deals to Canadians include Four Points Sheraton and Marriott’s TownePlace Suites and SpringHill Suites.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz