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B.C. retailers may feel the crunch of dollar parity

With the loonie almost at par with the U.S. dollar, many Lower Mainlanders will likely be heading south of the border to cash in on spring shopping deals this weekend.

With the loonie almost at par with the U.S. dollar, many Lower Mainlanders will likely be heading south of the border to cash in on spring shopping deals this weekend.

Our dollar, which yesterday briefly jumped past 99 cents US, could hit parity any time, said Royal Bank currency strategist David Watt.

This would be a welcome boost to businesses around Bellis Fair and Tulalip in Washington state, says Ken Oplinger, president and CEO of Bellingham Whatcom Chamber Of Commerce.

“When the Canadian dollar is 90 cents or higher you see more border crossings,” he said. “You go through the parking lot and maybe even half will be B.C. licence plates.”

Two years ago, when the loonie passed the U.S. dollar, Oplinger said there was a “real uptick in retail sales” not because more people were shopping, but because they were spending more money.

He met a Canadian reporter at the Bellis Fair food court at 6 a.m. during Black Friday last year — the American version of Boxing Day — and all the shoppers she spoke to were Canadian.

Vancouver resident Kiera Dimoff, 24, is heading to Bellis Fair with friends on Saturday.

“Considering how overpriced Vancouver is, it would be silly not to take this opportunity,” she said. “I plan on getting some work clothes for the coming warm weather — hopefully some items I couldn’t afford in Vancouver.”

The loonie is expected to remain strong for a few years, said Watt.

“We’ve taken to calling parity the new normal for the Canadian dollar,” he said. With files from The Canadian Press