December 14, 2021
(MCALLEN, Texas) — After more than a year and a half of the international bridges in the Rio Grande Valley being closed to non-essential travel, local business owners are happy to see the shopping scene in the area come back to life.
Big box retailers and shopping malls in the Rio Grande Valley depend on Mexican customers for a lot of their sales, but local businesses like the ones in Mcallen’s downtown were hit the hardest by the bridge closures. Jorge Bautista, the owner of Tennis Masters on Main Street, explained that in previous years, it would be impossible for storefronts in the area to remain vacant for long because demand was so high.
“Now you can walk around and see maybe ten for sale, for rent,” he said.
Research done by the Brookings Institute at Rice University estimated that border counties in Texas lost nearly $4.9 billion in GDP because of the restricted travel — and that study only accounted for eight months of the pandemic.
Fortunately, stores in Mcallen have been busy since the travel ban was lifted on Nov. 8.
“Any business on the border, from San Diego all the way down here to Mcallen, Texas — we rely a lot on the people that come from Mexico,” Bautista said. “Now that border has just opened a month ago, we see a big difference.”
While inflation rates are currently causing issues for shoppers throughout the United States, the pent-up demand from Mexican shoppers seems to be taking precedent here.