NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- When the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls officially unleashed its Black Friday event -- technically Thursday at 8 p.m. -- hundreds of bargain-hunters roamed the hallways searching for the best deals. A sizable portion of the shoppers, as usual, were Canadian.
It's impossible to calculate the exact percentage of Black Friday shoppers from Southern Ontario, but judging by the license plates in the parking lot of the Niagara Falls outlets, they certainly weren't lacking in numbers this year. They have continued to travel across the border this Thanksgiving despite an unfavorable exchange rate, which hovered around 74 cents to the American dollar as of Thursday.
John Doran, the senior manager of the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, said his retailers have reported strong sales to Canadian customers through the second half of 2016. He believes his stores offer unique products, often not available in Ontario.
And perhaps his Canadian customer base has simply accepted the poor exchange rate.
"It's been at that level for the past 10 months. It's no longer fluctuating," Doran said. "It's a consistent rate and Canadians know what to expect. And the tax rates are much more favorable here than they are across the border, and price points here are typically lower here than over there."
Black Friday brought plenty of American shoppers to the outlets, too.
No matter where the shoppers live, they've got a 25-hour window to find their bargains. More than 30 of the stores at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls will stay open from 8 p.m. Thursday through 9 p.m. Friday.