Fashion Outlets of Niagara welcome the return of Canadian shoppers

The mall’s general manager says on weekends, up to 50 percent of the shoppers are Canadian.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — April has become a turning point for the Fashion Outlets of Niagara, after Canada dropped what could be a costly testing requirement for vaccinated travelers.

“We’ve seen our Canadian shoppers come back in the hundreds, and we’re happy to see every single one of them,” general manager John Doran said.

Unvaccinated travelers still have to test.

On weekends, Doran says up to 50 percent of the shoppers are Canadian. It’s pivotal for businesses there, who saw much smaller crowds during the COVID pandemic but rely on all shoppers to support them. 

“There’s about a million people in Erie and Niagara County. There’s about 8 million population in Southern Ontario. Just the numbers alone tell us that the Southern Ontario consumer is an important to our success,” Doran said. 

Now that our northern neighbors are back, they get to enjoy some of their favorite things about Western New York again.

“It’s nice to just drive across for the day and do some shopping,” said Woody Stallings of Hamilton, Ontario. “(I enjoy) all the craft breweries here in the states. … There’s several restaurants.”

Added Karina Collado of Toronto: “(America has) different clothing, different fashion.” 

A mother and daughter from Ottawa even seized an opportunity that would keep them from traveling another five hours to Niagara Falls. 

“My daughter (Jessica) is here for a cheerleading competition over on the Canadian side, and we decided to go shopping, so we came to the U.S. We haven’t been able to come over in a while,” Tracy Murray said.

With some restrictions eased at the border already helping the mall and more shoppers coming the mall during Easter break, the hope is things will only continue to progress. 

“The restrictions at the border, sure, it hurt. But we had to do what was best for everyone’s health,” Doran said. “We survived it. I think we’re on the other side of COVID. … We’ve waited a long time for this day, and we’re so happy it’s here.”