DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – More Canadians are reportedly making overnight shopping trips to the U.S. this year, giving retailers in border areas such as Detroit a boost.

The increase has been triggered by a strong Canadian dollar and higher duty-free limits that went into effect in June.

Under the new rules, the value of merchandise Canadians may bring home tax-free from the U.S. has doubled or quadrupled, depending on how long they visit.

Statistics Canada says Canadians made 1.9 million overnight trips to the U.S. in June, the highest level in 40 years. A slight drop-off occurred in July.

At Detroit’s border crossings, the number of Canadians returning from overnight trips in the U.S. rose by about 5 percent during both June and July from year-ago levels.

For Canadians, “there’s a big blue-light sale going on south of the border,” Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist for the Bank of Montreal, told the Detroit Free Press.

Porter estimated that Canada loses a minimum of $20 billion a year in retail sales to the U.S., a number likely to increase as more Canadians learn about the higher duty-free limits.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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