RGV retailers see increase in sales

The holiday weekend brought in a record $59.1 billion of revenue this year nationwide.

While local sales numbers are not yet available, all signs point to a rebounding economy for the Rio Grande Valley.

From 2008 to 2011 the economic index for the greater McAllen area remained been pretty dismal, but this year retailers say sales are increasing.

"This year we have started to see increases every month so it's definitely a turn around, McAllen Chamber of Commerce vice president Nancy Millar said.

Millar credits much of the growth not so much to a rebound of the U.S. economy but the return of Mexican shoppers.

"For a while there they weren't even coming on Mexican holidays to shop, Millar said. Now they are starting to come back."

Hotel occupancy shows a noticeable increase in shoppers from across the border.

Holiday Inn sales manager Blake Kelley says it's been a great month for leisure customers.

"We were very surprised with our occupancy, Kelley said. There were three days in a row that we were completely sold out."

In fact Kelley says guests staying at the Holiday Inn for both business and leisure have brought the hotel an increase in business this year.

"It's been both a steady increase for corporate and leisure travel and a lot of the leisure travel is mostly Mexican shoppers, Kelley said.

While the violence hasn't diminished in Mexico, Millar says Mexicans are finding other ways to cross the border to spend their money.

"A lot of times what they are now doing is they come on a bus where before they would come individually. They also come in larger caravans, Millar said.

La Plaza Mall opened at midnight for the first time Friday morning and they are calling it a success.

"Parking lots were at capacity for the midnight opening with consistent traffic throughout the day. Both local and international shoppers were actively pursuing Black Friday offers, Marketing director Isabel Rodriguez-Vera said.

Proving Black Friday is becoming more popular for those across the border as well.

"Several years ago it wasn't a very big holiday for Mexican nationals but it has become so because they know what kind of deals they can get over here, Millar said.

According to the National Retail Federation, spending per shopper jumped six percent this year to $423.