Photo Courtesy: Associated Press
CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. -- As thousands of Canadians plan their trips to the Buffalo area for Black Friday shopping, retailers north of the border are fighting back in an effort to keep those shoppers local.
Last year, Canadian shoppers had an economic impact of around $931 million in the Western New York area. Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, C.E.O. of Visit Buffalo Niagara, said that is nowhere near capacity.
"Tthe Canadian market is exceptionally important," Gallagher-Cohen said, adding that increased marketing should continue to drive more Canadian shopping.
Recent increases to the duty-free limits allowed Canadians to bring back more goods without paying additional taxes. That drove a sharp increase in Canadian shopping trips to Buffalo over the summer.
Many retailers expect the same this holiday shopping season, the first with the new rules in effect. The Millennium Hotel by the Walden Galleria is already booked for Thursday night, and Friday is expected to sell out soon.
Gallagher-Cohen said the focus is not just on the Galleria and the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls -- which also gets much of its business from Canada. Visit Buffalo Niagara is also marketing many of the local retailers in neighborhoods like the Elmwood Village, Williamsville, East Aurora and other locations.
"Our strategy is not only to bring them to the malls, but to make sure that they have so much more fun that they want to come back and discover more of what we have to offer," she said.
But there is increased competition this year from Canadian retailers.
CTV Toronto reports that at least 9 malls in the Toronto area plan to open earlier than normal this Friday to compete with Black Friday in the U.S.
The Eaton Centre Mall will open at 6 a.m. Friday.