Winnipeg retailers hike prices, cut back as Canadian dollar continues to slide
From produce to product rentals, business owners say exchange rate is hurting their bottom line
Winnipeg retailers are feeling the pinch of the low Canadian dollar.
The loonie sunk below 70 cents on the U.S. dollar on Thursday, making it difficult for some business owners.
Desinee Ralph sells produce at The Forks, some of which is sourced in the U.S., and she says the business is constantly having to recalculate prices.
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"It's become quite frustrating when people come to try and buy fruits," she said. "Someone was trying to buy an orange today, and I rang it up as to how much it is per pound, and it rang up at about $1.30, and she said, 'I'm not getting it,' and walked away because she felt like it was too expensive."
At home, too, she's finding it difficult to afford healthy foods.
Green Bean Coffee Imports, a micro-roaster who sells organic, fair-trade coffee, already had to raise prices last year and may have to do it again.
Owner Derryl Reid said all of his business' purchases are done in U.S. dollars.
"It's scary. You really have to look at what you're doing in your business," said Reid. "We rely on customers like Diversity, Degrees Diner, that support small local companies like us, and it's difficult for us to sort of raise our prices too high."
At Spark Rentals, a business that rents light and PA systems for special events, expansion has been put on hold.
Owner Sinan Leylek said the low dollar is making it tough for him to buy new special effects equipment and lighting.
"It's almost like you're losing a sale every time the dollar drops," he said. "The margins are getting slimmer. You know, I don't want to charge more for my equipment to rent, but it's something where you have to find different ways to make up that difference."
He said the low dollar has reduced his shipping costs to the U.S., making it more profitable to rent equipment there.
This week, Leylek shipped party lights to a woman in Los Angeles for her daughter's birthday party.
"Who would have thought that a Winnipeg company would be sending equipment for a party in LA?" he said.
Not all Manitoba businesspeople are suffering.
A food-truck builder based in the province has seen an increase in the number of pizza trucks he has sold over the border, but he said it has been a double-edged sword, as it has slowed business from Canadian customers.