BUFFALO, N.Y. -- There is a reason there has been more traffic lately at the Lewiston-Queenston and Peace Bridges.
And it could mean good news for the Buffalo-area economy.
More Canadian neighbors are coming to shop in Western New York, and it's because the Canadian dollar has gone up.
"Any time the Canadian dollar goes up, that means we get more traffic, more tourism from Canada, so that's a good thing," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. "It's a good thing for our local economy."
Just a few months ago, the Canadian dollar would only get you about 72 cents American — the lowest point since the beginning of last year.
At the Peace Bridge, car traffic to and from Canada was down 7 percent in May of this year, compared to 2016.
Leaders blamed the weak Canadian currency.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says we "lost" tax revenue due to the weak loonie.
But this time, our region was able to make up for that, thanks to "another" industry.
"Auto sales have been through the roof. That's great because you've got to sell a lot of sweaters in various malls to make up for one automobile that's sold," Poloncarz said.
Paul Stasiak with the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association says while the U.S. has seen a year-to-year decline in auto sales in "each" of the past 7 months, Western New York dealers have seen the opposite -- an increase in new car sales over 2016. He credits a strong local lease market, aggressive payment plans, and local dealers stocking up on inventory.
If auto sales remain high as expected, the Canadian contribution would make a good situation even better.
Today the loonie is at 79 cents American.
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