Canadian cross-border spending set to rise with increase to duty-free limits

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With the arrival of the summer travel season, Canadians have an eye on the new cross-border shopping limits, according to new research by Harris/Decima.


  • Nationally, seven in ten Canadians support new regulations that increase duty free limits from $50 to $200 on visits to the US of more than 24 hours and from $400 to $800 on trips longer than 48 hours. Additionally, four in ten Canadians say they are likely to purchase more duty-free goods under the new rules.
  • Cross-border shopping will likely be part of many Canadian vacationers’ summer itinerary this year. One quarter of Canadians taking vacation this summer are planning a trip to the US, and two-thirds of those travellers are planning to shop on their US vacation.
  • Among those planning to visit the US this summer, support and uptake of the new spending limits are stronger than for the population at large. Eight in ten Canadian vacationers to the US support the increase and over half (54%) say they will spend more under the new rules. Intensity to spend is also stronger, with three in ten indicating that they are very likely to spend more under the new rules.
  • Canadians made over 21 million visits to the United States last year, accounting for over $20 billion in retail sales under the former duty-free limits, according to the chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. “The potential number of Canadians travelling to the US this summer is over four million,” says Harris/Decima Vice President Patricia Thacker. “With 54% likely to purchase more under the new duty-free limits, that’s over two million Canadians spending more in the US this summer alone.”

Each week, Harris/Decima interviews just over 1,000 Canadians through teleVox, the company’s national telephone omnibus survey. The most recent data was gathered between June 14th and 18th, 2012. The margin of error for this sample size is 3.2%, 19 times out of 20.