December 14, 2007

Christmas Dollars Flow North

All along the US-Mexico border, familiar, seasonal scenes are taking shape at international crossings and on highways. Weighted down with presents and goods of all kinds, immigrant caravans fleeted with pick-ups, SUVs and any four-wheeled vehicle that moves are headed south to visit hometowns, relatives and friends for the winter holidays. Meanwhile, long lines of cars and pedestrians inch across the US border on their way to Christmas shopping sprees in popular malls and border shopping districts.

In places like San Diego, the critical Christmas shopping season would be much bleaker for local businesses if it weren’t for Mexican customers. A recent article in the Mexican journal Frontera , for example, reported that Mexican shoppers and tourists, mainly from Tijuana, contributed more than $3.0 billion annually to the San Diego economy.

However, some Tijuana business leaders observe the money flow with more than a hint of dismay.

Cesar Cazares Diaz de Leon, president of the Tijuana Chamber of Commerce, recently told a Mexican reporter that Mexican spending in neighboring San Diego would increase by nearly a half billion dollars this year in comparison to 2006’s sum.

“We anticipate this season with a lot of desperation, because these are the times when our sales could go up, but we see with displeasure how the loss of consumers grew by $400 million this year,” Cazares said. “We are going to lose $400 million in sales this year. That is how the loss of consumers has grown year after year. We can’t compete with (San Diego) under these circumstances.”

A recent development blamed for the loss of commercial business in Tijuana was the opening of a new mall in San Ysidro, California, that quickly attracted an almost exclusively Mexican clientele.

Reprinted from Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico

Return to the Frontpage