Valley retailers hope holiday sales will reverse retail slump
When the holiday shopping season starts Friday, many Rio Grande Valley retailers fear they'll see fewer Mexican shoppers crossing the border for better deals.
To reach McAllen, many Mexican shoppers must travel on dangerous highways between Monterrey and Reynosa. Some feel the pinch from a weak peso. Others prefer to spend their money at home, offended by President Donald J. Trump's rhetoric about Mexico.
"I think this has been the worst year," said Sonny Samtani, who owns a perfume shop in downtown McAllen. "I've been here about 11 years now and I would say this year is the slowest."
Whatever the reason, fewer Mexican shoppers hurts Valley businesses — and means less sales tax for local cities.
"It's extremely tragic. I know the RGV and the city of Mission really depends on it," said Robert Rosell, president of the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce. "I know in talking to some of our members, business is down about 30 to 40 percent."
To bolster retail business, McAllen is advertising in Mexico as part of a campaign called "Amigos Always." The state of Tamaulipas is also attempting to provide better security on highways, which may make shoppers feel more comfortable making the drive north.