It’s a turbulent time for the beleaguered loonie.
In just over six weeks, the Canadian dollar has dipped about five per cent, to 90 cents (U.S.), its lowest value since September 2009.
For Hamilton residents, the increasingly modest value of the loonie is a double-edged sword.
Consumers will be paying more for imported goods — everything from California fruit and vegetables, to cars and clothes.
Anna Diehl, a teacher and Hamilton resident, is an avid online shopper. She’s concerned about how the falling dollar lessens her purchasing power.
“I do most of my shopping online, so it worries me a little when the dollar slips. Right now, a lot of the deals from American outlets are still worth it, but if it drops any further, I might have to reconsider my shopping habits.”
Strength for manufacturers
A lowered loonie spells good news for Hamilton's manufacturers though, according to Derek Lothian, the national director of communications for the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.
"Obviously, for companies exporting, the falling dollar is a good thing. At the end of the day, this means Canadian products are more competitive," Lothian explained.
A fall in the loonie makes Canadian goods cheaper and more appealing not just to American buyers but around the world, said Lothian.
He also said, in general, Canadian companies are more safeguarded against fluctuations in the dollar either way. Ever since the recession, companies have taken steps like diversifying their customer base to hedge themselves against sudden changes. He also said it's important to look at a global perspective when watching the dollar drop.
"The American dollar is starting to rebound [from the recession]," Lothian said. "Here in Canada, it's not necessarily that our dollar is getting weaker. The American dollar is getting stronger and that's good news all around."
Potential influx of American tourists
For others, 90 cents on the greenback translates into dollar signs.
Susan Monarch, manager of Hamilton Tourism and Creative Industries, said that “from a tourism perspective, it will spark increased interest” in Hamilton and the region.
“For Hamilton, the bulk of visitors — if not coming from Ontario — comes from the States. This is going to recharge that tourism market where the Americans [are saying] 'We’ve got so much more bang for our buck.' So I anticipate that we will see positive results in the tourism industry.”
Monarch also said that the film industry and ancillary service industries like hotels and restaurants also benefit from the weakening value of the Canadian dollar.
“When a film crew has a US $2-million budget and they come into Canada, that $2 million turns into $2.25 million… and that all benefits our hospitality partners. Film crews coming up here have to rent, have to stay, have to eat… It’s a win-win.”
'Just have patience'
Other travel experts believe that a slight hit to the Canadian dollar won’t prevent most travellers from booking international voyages.
David McCaig, president of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies, said the falling dollar will likely translate into “slightly more expensive trips” for the average Canadian traveller — but that won’t dash too many winter getaway plans.
“After a real Canadian winter, most people want to get away to warmer climates. Most Canadians treasure their holidays, and after the ice storm and freezing cold temperatures, a couple having to pay an extra $25 or $50 surcharge won’t change anything.”
Marvin Ryder, a McMaster University marketing professor, told CBC News that Canadians should expect a “U-shaped” curve to the dollar, and that by the end of the year, the loonie should be in the 92-94 cent range.
“If we as consumers can’t do all we want over the next little while in terms of travelling or making those big purchases, so be it. Just put it off for a year.”
“My message is: just have patience.”