Christmas shoppers from Mexico boost Southern California’s economy with purchases averaging $536 per family, according to a survey by the Crossborder Group, a binational consulting firm.
“The two weeks before Christmas is when the wave of shoppers reaches its highest point, with pedestrians waiting up to three hours to get into the U.S. and motorists even longer,” the president of Crossborder, Kenn Morris, told Efe.
The annual survey, which has measured the scale of Mexican purchases here since 2003, is taken with a sample of 1,000 shoppers chosen at random among people entering the United States from Mexico at California ports of entry.
“Families are chiefly buying clothes for the kids and the rest of the family, plus electronic items and food for the Christmas festivities. We have an estimated economic benefit for the San Diego region of between $76 million and $101 million from these seasonal items alone,” Morris said.
Conservatively speaking and according to Crossborder estimates, Mexican shoppers represent during the entire year revenues of up to $6 billion for the Southern California economy, for which Morris criticized Congress for not providing the necessary funds to complete more rapidly and on a larger scale the infrastructure works to modernize the San Ysidro Port of Entry, which handles most of the traffic bound for San Diego.
At this time of year, the wait in a car takes an average of three hours minimum, and for pedestrians can be more than two hours, made worse by the chaos of the construction and remodeling works.
Though some 100,000 people will cross the border from Mexico to go shopping in San Diego every day until the end of the year, Morris said that the number is slightly below what it was in previous years due to the recession and a greater availability of U.S. merchandise in Tijuana.
Spending by Mexican families in 2007 reached its highest point with an average of $605 each, compared with $562 in 2003, Morris said.
According to a study by the San Diego Association of Governments, 25 million crossings are made into the U.S. to make purchases every year.
In general, 55 percent of the crossings from Mexico to the U.S. are for shopping, 26 percent for work and 11 percent for family visits, according to the study.
The research found that Mexicans’ principal means of transport for shopping in San Diego is the automobile, which accounts for 73 percent.
Tijuana native Arcelia Hinojosa says she would rather do her shopping in San Diego all year long.
“It’s easier for me because I feel that there is a certain order in the U.S., it’s more economical and somehow the things I buy seem to be of a much better quality than here,” Hinojosa said, adding that this year she spent close to $200, mainly on clothes and gifts.