Nova Scotia

Low Canadian dollar has snowbirds rethinking plans

It’s the time of year when thousands of Canadians, including Nova Scotians, head down south to escape winter, but the low Canadian dollar will mean less money to spend when in the U.S.

The Canadian dollar is down and every U.S. dollar purchased will cost $1.14 Canadian

Arthur Donahoe and his wife are going to Florida this year for their seventh trip. (CBC)

It’s the time of year when thousands of Canadians, including Nova Scotians, head down south to escape winter, but the low Canadian dollar will mean less money to spend when in the U.S.

Steve Anderson plans to snowbird to Florida later this winter.

“I like to bike a lot and it's much easier to bike in Florida in January than to bike in Halifax,” he said.

Arthur Donahoe and his wife are also going to Florida this year for their seventh trip.

“One of the things we'll be doing is going to a game in Tampa Bay between the Lightning and the Maple Leafs and I'll take great pleasure in watching the Lightning beat the Maple Leafs,” he said.

Both men realize their trips and activities will be more expensive this year. The Canadian dollar is down and every U.S. dollar purchased will cost $1.14 Canadian.

Some travellers are waiting to convert their money and others say they may cut their trip short if the dollar keeps dipping. (CBC)

Donahoe says he can afford to pay the extra expense, but says he would reconsider if the dollar dipped further.

“Another 5 or 10 cents and we'd start thinking about our options,” he said.

Some travellers are waiting to convert their money and others say they may cut their trip short if the dollar keeps dipping.

Keeping an eye on the sliding dollar

Cynthia Burney says she will be keeping an eye on the dollar.

"We were looking at maybe going for longer, but I guess, you know, we will wait to see what it's like when we're down there this year and whether it's really changed drastically because of the dollar being where it is,” she said.

The snowbirds say they always put in a good word for Nova Scotia when they meet American friends.

"We talk about Nova Scotia frequently and a matter of fact, friends of ours have come to Nova Scotia because of the fact we've spoken to them about this place and because they've come to know a few people from here,” Donahoe said.

With the lower Canadian dollar, they're hoping it will mean even more incentive to visit.

Exporters watching rates closely

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia business operators are likewise watching the dollar closely. 

Wendy Friedman's new Halifax store, the Independent Mercantile Company, sells many items made in the U.S.

“It can really affect our cost to bring things in because not only does it affect the exchange rate, but also things like duties on a percentage basis. So if the cost of the product goes up, and you're paying 22 per cent duties, then you're paying 22 per cent on a higher dollar value,” she said.

Friedman orders products as much as six months in advance, so she can gradually adjust orders and prices depending on which way the dollar goes.

The U.S. shopping trips offered by Atlantic Tours are nearly sold out for this year, and Richard Arnold and his team are now trying to set prices for tours in 2015.

“If the dollar was going to be on a tumble, this is kind of the right time of the year to do it because we can protect ourselves before the trips are priced are for next year’s season,” he said.

“When you have a Canadian account and a U.S. account, you can hedge some of your own risks in both directions.”

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