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One third of residents say the drop in the Canadian dollar will make them less likely travel to the U.S. by car.

Vancouver, BC – Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley residents are less keen on taking a trip to the United States by car than they were a year ago, but the proportion of residents who will consider a visit remains high, a new Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative sample of 810 residents of the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley, 61% say they have driven across the border at least once in the past 12 months—a 13-point drop since a similar survey taken last year.

Still, two thirds of residents (69%) say they are driving to the U.S. at about the same rate as they did compared to 12 months ago, while 20% say they are making the trip less often than before. Only 11% say they are making the trip more often than one year ago, compared to 22% in 2013.


“As was the case last year, the prospect of lower prices motivates British Columbians to drive to the U.S. to seek better deals,” says Steve Mossop, President, Insights West. “Practically nine-in-ten residents believe that the best way to prevent cross-border shopping is for Canadian retailers to improve their pricing.”

The Canadian dollar’s drop to around the 90-cent mark is affecting future plans. While three-in-five residents say the current state of affairs will not alter their behaviour, more than a third (37%) say they will drive to the U.S. less often than usual.

“The weaker Canadian dollar is already making British Columbians reassess their plans,” continues Mossop. “Parity made cross border-shopping a very attractive proposition a year ago, but the eagerness has definitely slowed down.”

The main thing that British Columbians acquire when travelling to the U.S. by car is gas (89% say they “frequently” or “occasionally” spend money on it), followed by dining out (82%), clothing, shoes and accessories (78%), and groceries (73%).  But the list goes beyond that, with 61% shopping for places to stay, 47% for entertainment, 20% electronics, 17% for casinos gambling, and 6% for furniture.


Shoppers are returning with such frequency and online shopping has become part of the mix, that the trend to having a permanent mailbox in the USA is taking hold. One-in-four of BC’s cross-border shoppers (24%) have a U.S. mailbox where they pick up merchandise that they order online or ship.

Metro Vancouver residents share two points of view on cross-border shopping.  On the one hand, they blame Canadian retailers, with 88% agreeing (51% strongly) that they need to improve their pricing to prevent shoppers from going to the USA.  They also blame manufacturers, as 57% agree that if manufacturers sent the latest and greatest to Canada, Canadians wouldn’t go to the USA to shop.  On the other hand, 71% agree that Canadians shopping in the USA regularly are hurting the local economy.

Online Shopping and Airplane Trips

Three quarters of Metro Vancouver residents have taken a flight for business for pleasure in the past year, and the draw of cheaper USA flights has enticed one-in-four residents of the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (26%) to drive across the border to catch a flight from an American airport.  One of the reasons cited for this decision is the notion that the Canadian airline industry cannot compete on prices and that the Canadian government is charging flyers too much on taxes and duties (76% agree with this view). Fewer (51%) believe that the Canadian airline industry is suffering because too many Canadians travel to the USA to shop.


About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary and has ten full-time and five part-time employees.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from February 3 to February 5, 2014, among 810 residents of British Columbia’s Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley who are aged 18+ and are Your Insights panel members. is Insights West’s in-house access panel offering on-demand samples for both clients and research suppliers looking for Western Canadian populations. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age and gender. While statistical margins of error are arguably not applicable to online panels/online studies of this nature, we have assumed that the same margins of error apply as if it were a true unweighted random probability sample with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty. To view the presentation, click here.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
President, Insights West


Photograph: Aaron Strout