High school graduation ceremonies are underway this week and one Vancouver dress shop says the high U.S. dollar has meant a lot more business for Canadian retailers.

The phone is constantly ringing at After Five, a popular dress store in Vancouver. Owner Brad Chenkis says it's been so busy he has had to hire twice the usual number of seamstresses.

"It's been a very strong grad season," Chenkis said. "With the Canadian dollar getting worse, shoppers have stayed in Canada, have not explored to the U.S. like they have in previous years, which is nice to see."

Chenkis says the average price for a prom dress is about $500 this year, but they can range from $300 to $800.

Budget blow-outs

Most parents are planning to spend about $500 on prom, according to Carla Hindman, director of financial education with Visa Canada.

After 5 Fashion Brad Chenkis

After 5 Fashion owner Brad Chenkis says more Canadians grads are buying their prom dresses at home rather than shopping for bargains in the U.S. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

"This is second year we have conducted a prom spending survey. This year we found Canadians are planning to downsize on their prom spending," she said.

"Where as last year they planned to spend $804, this year they planned to spend $508 on prom."

But that might not be realistic, even if they get a good deal on the dress.

High school student Emma Fyfe says she bought her dress under budget.

"I think it was 350 ... it was a pretty good find," said Fyfe.

But throw in shoes, nails, hair, tickets to the prom at $120 each, and maybe a limo for a few hours, and the cost for her prom night could easily double.

Whatever it takes?

Chenkis says most of the time it is the parents who pay, and they are willing to spend whatever it takes to make their daughters happy.

After 5 Fashion prom dresses

The average price for a prom dress is about $500 this year at Vancouver retailer After 5 Fashion (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Hindman confirms parents are expecting to spend more on their daughters than their sons for prom.

Parents with teenage daughters plan to spend $424, compared with $278 for those with teenage sons, and moms overall are far freer with their funds, planning to spend $588 compared to dads at $431, a Visa Canada telephone survey of more than 1000 parents found.

A Visa survey in the U.S. found Americans are spending far more on prom plans, up to $919 US. And contrary to Canadians, American dads are the bigger spenders, with plans to spend $1160 compared to American moms, who plan to spend $710.

With files from Tina Lovgreen