Canadians crossing border for Black Friday frenzy
Published Friday, November 26, 2010 3:06PM EST
The Canadian Border Services Agency is reporting some wait times at the U.S. border, as bargain-hungry Canadians come home after taking part in the shopping frenzy known as Black Friday.
Stores from California to New York saw aisles clogged with excited shoppers hunting for everything from TVs to toys. The Toys R Us store in New York's Times Square had 1,500 shoppers waiting for it to open at 10 p.m. Thursday night.
Border crossings into the U.S. were relatively calm on Friday morning, but Canada's border agency says they expect long line-ups as shoppers return home after a day of frenzied shopping on Black Friday.
However, traffic didn't appear to be that much heavier than normal in the early afternoon.
Most crossings have been running smoothly, but 30-minute waits are being encountered in some parts of Ontario. Regular wait times for Fridays can be about 20 minutes.
At the crossing in Queenston, Ont., the wait time was 30 minutes at 3 p.m. At the Thousand Island Bridge near Kingston, the wait was 20 minutes.
The Sault Ste. Marie Crossing was also experiencing a 20-minute wait.
However, the traffic could increase over the afternoon, and border officials say they are prepared for the onslaught, expecting the worst to come between 1 and 11 p.m, when they anticipate line-ups of more than 90 minutes.
Black Friday, considered the start of holiday shopping season, marks the day after American Thanksgiving when retail outlets drop prices and welcome a crush of frenzied shoppers.
Motorists were waiting in line-ups for as long as 15 minutes to cross the border into the U.S. for the annual shopping extravaganza.
The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel was backed up for 15 minutes early Friday morning, while similar delays were seen at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge. Some crossings were reporting no delays.
A spokesperson for the border agency said officers will try to keep traffic flowing, but that shoppers should give themselves plenty of time at the border and be aware of rules about what they are allowed to bring back to the country.
A number of U.S. stores including Old Navy, Toys R Us and Sears opened late Thursday evening and through the night to make the most of the anticipated rush. Diehards, including Canadian visitors, started lining up outside stores Thursday night.
Canadian retailers have grown a little miffed at the money being spent south of the border. The Retail Council of Canada is appealing to the patriotic to spend their money at home.
The council says retailers employ 10 per cent of the workforce and make up a vital part of the country's economy. The council reminds consumers that Canadian taxes pay for health care and education.
Some stores in Canada are matching their U.S. counterparts, in an attempt to keep shoppers at home. And the number of Canadians shopping online on Friday is expected to be up from last year.
An Ipsos-Reid survey finds that one-third of Canadian online shoppers are planning to spend money on U.S. retail sites on Friday, and they are planning on spending more money than last year. Shoppers are expected to drop an average of $242 online on Friday, up from $226 last year.
Those who decide to cross the border to do some holiday shopping will find the Canada dollar won't buy as much as it did just a day ago. The loonie has fallen in value by more than a full penny from yesterday's close of 99.04 cents US. It is still up from its 94-cent value at this time last year.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press