Canadians doing holiday shopping in U.S. amid postal service strike

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A rotating strike by postal workers in Canada could deter people there from doing their holiday shopping online. That could drive more Canadians to cross the border and shop in American stores.

“Don’t order anything,” advised Blaze Callaway, a St. Catharines, Ont. resident. 

The rotating strike, in which workers in different areas of the country are striking at different times, by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers started in October. Since then, they have been picketing, asking for Canada Post to improve their workload, among other things.

Mail delivery hasn’t been completely halted, but Callaway said it has been slowed.

“I have stuff waiting from eBay right now and I’m not getting it,” she said. “It’s very frustrating.”

That’s why she crossed the Niagara River to shop at the Best Buy on Niagara Falls Blvd. in Amherst this weekend. She plans on doing all of her holiday shopping at brick and mortar stores, and prefers doing that in the United States.

“You guys have 50 percent off things. In Canada, they have $50 off things,” Callaway said. “Even with the exchange rate, it’s much more worth it to come here.”

As of Friday, one Canadian dollar was worth 76 cents in the United States.

At the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA, plenty of cars in the parking lot were donning Ontario license plates on Friday. Beth McCormick and Brenda Hughes are both Canadian, and said they would be shopping here whether postal workers were striking or not.

I’m too old to be online,” said Hughes, who is from Brooklin, Ont.

“Same,” agreed McCormick, a Whitby, Ont. resident.

John Doran is the manager at the outlet mall. He says Canadian shoppers account for between 30 and 40 percent of the mall’s traffic. He is ready in case that increases this December.

“Any little advantage that we can get over an online shopping option, we’ll take it,” Doran said.

Back-to-work legislation was introduced in Canada’s government on Thursday, a move which drew heavy criticism from the postal workers’ union.

“Canada Post seems to have convinced (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau that Christmas wouldn’t come without back-to-work legislation,” said CUPW National President Mike Palecek.

“While the government introduced back-to-work legislation (Thursday), customers can expect delays for the foreseeable future,” Canada Post officials said in a message on the corporation’s website.

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