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"The fact is that same day auto trips by Canadians to the United States have actually been flat over the last five years or so. "

Why go through the hassle of driving across the border when you can just order things over the internet?

Excellent point. I think a reason the one or more night trips are up are generally part of a travel/ tourism experience and shopping on these trips is important but a secondary consideration. The same day trips are down partly because of border hassles though the drop in the dollar after 1991 was a factor. People who used to same day trip can just order many things over the Internet. However, a lot of grocery shopping is also being done cross border and that is not as easily done via the Internet - yet.

I grew-up a stones throw from the Vermont border around the time of the peak in the graph above. Everyone bought gas and groceries in the US. In those days the US border guards would regularly wave us through the crossing, no questions asked. The Canadian guards were a different story. They would routinely search cars (over looking the $300 in groceries) for booze and smokes. Not infrequently they'd ask someone to pull into the inspection area and fetch the tool box (to take off the interior door moldings, check for false floor in the trunk).

And back then (which really isn't all that long ago) the border towns in Vermont and upstate NY were doing OK. Not so anymore. It's extremely depressed now.

The more easily cocaine and guns slip across the border into Canada, the more votes the Conservatives can rustle up by playing the crime fear card.

"Why go through the hassle of driving across the border when you can just order things over the internet?"

Contrast internet shopping in Canada with that in the US - it is a different world. Here, there is limited choice and not much in the way of a price advantage (plus expensive and slow shipping). In the US, it is a whole different situation.

I think a better question is, why is retailing (both bricks & mortar as well as online) so much more competitive in the US than it is in Canada? Is it because of tax structure? Population? Culture?

Also, I can't fathom travelling to Buffalo for 24 hours to shop. Don't people place a value on their sanity and time? Not to mention the costs of getting there - do people make rational pricing decisions, or do they get a positive psychic benefit from getting a deal?

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