Holiday shopping zeal tapers off this winter amid reinstated border restrictions

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Management at the Dakota Square Mall in Minot said a massive influx of tourists over the holidays brought in a lot of economic activity, however, all that has started to taper off, but officials say it could increase once again after the winter.

With discount signs posted all over, it’s no surprise shoppers took to the mall for their holiday shopping.

“This has been one of our busiest holiday shopping seasons. It was very busy traffic was up over 2020 and 2019,” said Marketing Director Mikalah Auer.

Auer attributed the increase to a number of reasons, including a pent-up demand to shop in person.

“I also think that people are ready to get out and get shopping again and we also had a lot of great deals,” said Auer.

Shoppers were a good mix of locals and guests from neighboring communities but a great number of Canadian tourists too.

“We’ve seen a wonderful influx that’s been really important to our hotels and our shopping and our dining and our downtown,” said Visit Minot Executive Director Stephanie Schoenrock.

More than 30,000 personal vehicles traveled across several U.S.-Canada entry points in North Dakota in November, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

According to Visit Minot, the numbers climbed up, especially after Canadian authorities removed PCR testing restrictions for short-term visitors.

Right now, Schoenrock says the holiday spike is starting to taper off.

“On December 21st, the Canadian government has put that restriction back in place so even though the border is still open that restriction does prevent some Canadians from being willing to come down,” she said.

Schoenrock expects local economic activities to pick up again after the winter. And that outlook is what Dakota Square Mall managers look forward to, as well.

“Especially with Canadians being able to come over and shop again that really helped our holiday season so I think that is a good indicator for what we’re going to see in 2022,” Auer said.

As more people return to the malls to fulfill long-held desires since the pandemic or for last-minute shopping, mall management says there’s more to come including store expansions inside the Dakota Square Mall.

Meanwhile, Schoenrock says pending pandemic-related changes, Visit Minot will attend some trade shows in Canada to attract more tourists into Minot.

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