Christmas shoppers from Mexico crowd El Paso stores

EL PASO, Texas - Shoppers from Mexico are making the season bright for U.S. retailers.

"The sales are excellent," said Chon Reza, a salesman standing outside a clothing store in South El Paso just steps from the international Bridge.

His job: entice shoppers to come inside. 

"Get the bargains, sweatshirts, pants, jackets, gloves," said Reza to the crowds of last minute Christmas shoppers who filled the sidewalk just steps from the international bridge.

"Step inside and look around," he urged.

"I have seen people coming from Guadalajara, Mexico City, Chihuahua City and all the main cities of the Mexican republic," said Reza.

Shoppers from Mexico spend about $4.5 billion dollars a year in Texas alone according to Professor Tom Fullerton at the University of Texas at El Paso.
El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville and McAllen are among the Texas cities that benefit the most.

"It creates a lot of jobs and means the retail footprints on the metropolitan economies in these four areas are much bigger than they otherwise would be, "said Fullerton, an author of the recently published "Borderplex Economic Outlook 2013-2015.

Fullerton expects a spike in spending on the U.S. side of the border in December after lawmakers in Mexico approved a five percent sales tax hike as part of a fiscal reform package.

The increase raises the value added tax on most goods to 16% in Mexican border cities which used to pay a lower tax than the rest of the country to help retailers compete with U.S. stores.

The sales tax increase will not take effect until January but many retailers on the U.S. side of the border are seeing a spike in sales now.

"Right now these are more of a protest purchases than they are pocketbook purchases.  In January they will turn into pocketbook purchases," said Fullerton.
The shopping spree will extend into the beginning of January when many parents from Mexico buy toys for the Three Kings Day holiday on Jan. 6.

"Yes, because in Juarez it's going to be more expensive, said Luci Valdez, a mother from Juarez.

She was Christmas shopping in El Paso for her husband and three children.

"It's cheaper here," she said as she picked up a giant bag filled like Santa's sack and walked toward the international bridge back to Mexico.

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