New BPRI study shows suffering internet sales

Border-SG-1By Steve Guntli

A new study released by the Border Policy Research Institute (BPRI) at Western Washington University found year-over-year sales from online retailers has slowed significantly since 2010.

Online sales is one of the largest economic drivers for border towns like Blaine and Sumas. Canadians from the lower Fraser Valley will often order items from American sites such as Amazon.com, and have them shipped to post office boxes near the border to save on shipping costs and sales tax.

According to the BRPI study, Blaine and Sumas experienced record-high booms in online sales between 2000 and 2010, but the rates of increase have steadily declined. In 2013, online sales were up 27 percent from the previous year. For the one-year period between 2013 and 2014, however, sales were up by only 3 percent.

According to the study, the downturn in online shopping could have a disproportionate impact on border communities when compared with retail centers such as Bellingham.

The study’s authors believe traffic through the Cascade Gateway will continue to decline, as numbers have been on a downturn in conjunction with the declining value of the Canadian dollar.

Read the full study at bit.ly/25usO5x.

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