The Easter Effect

The Easter Effect

Canada saw an impressive March 2018 for US arrivals, driven in large by 19% growth in vehicle arrivals. The Integrated Primary Inspection Lane (IPIL) data is a reliable indicator of vehicle arrivals from the US.

Our early estimates for March 2018 based on IPIL data were within 1% of actual growth, and we can use the same data to estimate what we can expect for our April 2018 performance.

What do the numbers suggest? Unfortunately, estimates for April are a little less rosy compared to April 2017, suggesting a possible double-digit year-over-year drop.

March and April vary year-over-year

Thanks to the daily-level detailed IPIL data, we can better understand what is driving these large swings between months. It’s not unusual to see this fluctuation in vehicle arrivals in March and April.

March and April results are skewed by which month Easter falls in

Vehicle arrivals over Easter weekend are almost double than any other weekend. With so much of our vehicle overnight arrivals coming on weekends, the additional traffic of what is equivalent to an extra weekend translates into significant month-to-month fluctuation.

The Easter Effect

Daily-level data gives us a more complete picture for vehicle arrivals than month-level data does. By comparing the present year with past years we can see how much of the changes are due to when Easter falls.

March and April results are skewed by which month Easter falls in

For this reason, our Consumer and Market Intelligence team recommends that US vehicle arrivals for March and April should be evaluated together. We also have evidence that similar behaviour is seen in other countries that celebrate Easter, including Mexico and the United Kingdom. This is also similar to how we evaluate performance from China in January and February which are heavily skewed by when Chinese New Year falls.

Looking at the data, when we combine March and April and compare year-over-year, 2018 arrivals are almost identical to 2017 arrivals for the same period, with an annual difference of just +0.2%!

Combined IPIL overnight vehicle arrivals from the United States in March and April
Year IPIL Overnight Arrivals
in March and April
2016 784,600  
2017 770,750 -1.8%
2018 772,105 +0.2% (estimated)


Posted: June 1, 2018

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