SURREY (NEWS1130) – As cross-border shoppers get ready to battle long weekend line-ups, Canadian retailers are ready to step up the fight to keep their dollars north of the 49th parallel.

The Surrey Board of Trade is putting together a resolution on behalf of border cities across the country, which will eventually be presented to the federal government.

A BMO Capital Markets study released this week suggests up to 10 per cent of Canadian retail spending is now flowing outside our borders; despite the strong loonie, goods are still significantly cheaper in the US.

“Canadian businesses do currently pay a much higher rate than US retailers on many finished goods imported from Asia and other countries,” explains Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade. “The Canadian dollar has remained near parity with the US dollar for several years, but retailers still pay up to 50 per cent more here in Canada for the same products.”

“With tariffs, country pricing, and supply management issues, we are putting together a federal government resolution, hopefully in concert with other border cities, to try to address these competitive issues that are really compromising doing business in Canada, especially along the border,” she adds.

The resolution will be presented for backing in September at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce national convention in Hamilton before it goes to Ottawa.

“It’s a long-term project. There are a lot of things happening in terms of debt with the Canadian government, but the resolution is something we are committed to, along with other communities like Niagara Falls,” says Huberman.

“We are finding that businesses are becoming more worried, long-term, about what’s going to happen. This is their bread and butter. This is how they feed their families and give back to their community, so we are trying to do everything we can within our mandate to support them.”

Retailers facing challenges in border communities will also have to deal with the June 1st increase in duty-free limits for Canadian shoppers crossing the border.

“The increase in exemptions will have an effect on retailers, but it’s all about marketing and collaborating as a group. For example, the shops at Morgan’s Crossing in South Surrey are really trying to think of ways to strategically market in other parts of the region to drive business to them,” says Huberman.

She notes many small businesses are already offering incentives and taking part in cross-promotions with the Surrey Board of Trade and tourism associations to compete with retailers across the border.