Soaring loonie luring Canadian shoppers south

OTTAWA — Many Canadians are itching to take advantage of the loonie’s renewed buying punch south of the border, a new poll suggests — and that could be bad news for Canadian businesses.

OTTAWA — Many Canadians are itching to take advantage of the loonie’s renewed buying punch south of the border, a new poll suggests — and that could be bad news for Canadian businesses.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey found that 31 per cent of those asked said they’re now more likely to travel or make a big purchase in the United States.

The results suggest Canadians could be pumping millions or even billions of dollars into the U.S. economy that they would otherwise be spending at home.

Adults under age 35 were almost twice as likely as those over age 50 to consider a southern sojourn.

Pollster Doug Anderson cautions that not everyone who tells a pollster they are more likely to do something actually does it. However, he says that even though a majority say the loonie’s strength is not influencing their plans, he would be concerned if he were a retailer.

“(One third) is a fairly significant portion of the economy and Canadian retailers are probably recognizing that some dollars that might otherwise stay in the country are probably going to go south… What will be really interesting is to watch how long this lasts.”

The survey was conducted March 18-21 when the loonie was making a run at parity with the U.S. dollar. It finished at 99.49 cents US on Wednesday.

Economists say they expect that with Canada’s sound fundamentals and growing demand for Canadian exports of minerals and oil, the currency could stay at or above parity for several years.

Canadians will likely be paying close attention. One of the polls’s findings is that 93 per cent of those surveyed said they were aware of the loonie’s movements.

The survey of 1,000 people is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.