Your next cross-border shopping trip could be more than 2,000 km away. A luxe shopping centre, a theatre and a handful of high-end hotels in Dallas are launching “Canada Appreciation Month” in February, offering freebies and discounts in a bid to lure more shoppers and boost the $340 million that Canadians spend in Texas each year.
Anthony Wilkinson, head of tourism for NorthPark Centre, an upscale mall in Dallas, says Canadians are lured to Texas for big-ticket items, since there’s no luxury or state sales tax (419,000 Canadians visited Texas in 2011, up 12 per cent from 2010). The majority fly from Toronto, but also Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal. Dallas malls now offer Canadians on-site refunds for local sales taxes, and the competition for shoppers could grow. After Ottawa increased tax-free allowances at the border last June, travel to the U.S. jumped 7.5 per cent. Canadians spent a record $5.2 billion in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2012, with the dollar continuing to hover near parity.
A $500 Michael Kors bag “is probably going to be about $300 in Dallas,” notes Wilkinson, who’s practising O Canada for a “red and white” event to start Canada Appreciation Month. To make the $750 flight worthwhile, you’d only need to buy four of them.