Land Border Closure Sees Over 80% Decline in Sales for Duty-Free Businesses

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Canada Border Services Agency

OTTAWA – BUSINESS – The Frontier Duty Free Association (FDFA), representing the small independently-owned, land-border duty free businesses, today released survey results showing that despite Americans being allowed to travel over the Canada/US land border, these businesses still have an over 80 percent (80.17%) decline in sales compared to pre-pandemic. These export stores were shuttered for over a year and were down over 95% in sales during the full closure of the land border for over 18 months.

The border closure order was originally made in March 2020 by both the Canadian Cabinet and the American White House. Since that time, the Canadian government has partially reopened the land border to fully vaccinated Americans that also must produce a negative covid test using the expensive PCR method. The American’s have by contrast closed the land border to all but essential services for some 20 months. This, despite allowing unvaccinated Candians to fly over the border with almost no restrictions for the majority of the pandemic.

“Our stores are appreciative of the federal supports for business forced to close or nearly close during the entire pandemic.” said FDFA Executive Director, Barbara Barrett. “We also appreciate the Liberal promise during the federal campaign to extend the support for tourism-based businesses into next year.”

We are a tourism-based business that is the hardest hit of the hardest hit businesses in Canada,” added Barrett.

With the ongoing border closure and general thickening of the border, FDFA is calling on the Canadian federal government to take three specific measures:

1. Advcocate to President Biden to open the land border to fully vaccinated Canadians
During the last several months, we have lost the initiative on this issue in Washington. Over 70 Congressional leaders have signed a letter to President Biden to open the Canada/US border. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister must make this an urgent priority with President Biden.

2. Eliminate the expensive PCR test for fully vaccinated Americans crossing the land border
Fully vaccinated is fully vaccinated. Forcing fully vaccinated Americans to get tested before crossing the border makes no scientific sense. Hockey stadiums will now be open at 100 percent capacity but a fully vaccinated family of four faces an $800 testing bill just to drive over the border in their own car. This unscientific approach must end given that random testing over the past few months has demonstrated there is no risk to ending the pre-testing.

3. Fully implement the Liberal campaign promise to help the hardest hit businesses.
This promise must be quickly implemented this Fall by Parliament. Tourism-based businesses and border stores have been closed and deeply impacted to protect Canadians. We cannot allow them to fail on this last mile of support.

“This is a matter of fairness,” said Barrett. “As long the land border remains almost closed, we cannot survive and have a future without support. Our retailers closed to protect Canadians and we deserve not to be left behind and kill a 40-year-old export sector.”