San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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SUBMITTED REPORT

Holiday shoppers from Mexico visiting outlet stores here spent roughly twice as much as their American counterparts visiting from outside the San Antonio and Austin areas, according to a study led by Texas State University researchers.

The study found the average group of Mexican shoppers spent $1,568 per trip during a holiday period beginning in late 2008 compared with the average group of domestic shoppers, which spent $746 per trip. Researchers also found that the Mexican shoppers’ retail spending contributed from 44 cents to 68 cents to the local and regional economies for each dollar they spent at retail shops.

“This study suggests that Mexican nationals who cross the border into the United States for many of their holiday shopping activities tend to contribute to our economy at a significantly higher rate than domestic shoppers–and that they help make the local economy more robust,” said Pauline Sullivan, an associate professor of fashion merchandising in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State.

The study’s findings were published in an article titled “Mexican National Cross-Border Shopping: Exploration of Retail Tourism” in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services. The article was written by Sullivan, fellow Texas State faculty member Ann DuPont, Mark Bonn of Florida State University and Vertica Bhardwaj of the University of Texas.

The study — based on surveys of Mexican shoppers at two outlet malls in San Marcos during the holiday season that began in late November 2008 and ended in early January 2009 — examined the economic impact of Mexican nationals’ retail spending after they crossed into the United States. On average, respondents were 41 years old and male (53.7 percent), and the average number of people in a Mexican national retail group was five. Overall, Mexican national tourist shoppers spent the most money during visits to the United States on apparel.

Researchers found the multiplier for Mexican nationals’ cross-border retail tourist spending was $1.44 at the local level, meaning that for each dollar spent at a retail shop, an additional 44 cents was added to the local economy through other purchases such as for fuel, meals, lodging and entertainment. The multiplier effect for the regional economy was $1.68, the study further noted.

Additionally, researchers examined the spending habits of those Mexican nationals who visited the outlet malls for day trips against those who had at least one overnight stay. Daily spending per group for Mexican shoppers staying overnight was found to be highest at $1715.94, compared with day visitor spending at $898.31.

The study’s principals said the research “quantifies the importance Mexican national tourist shoppers contribute to the local and regional economies.” Direct dollars spent by Mexican nationals through retail tourism visits to the United States not only generates income, but also supports employment.

San Marcos’ municipal government has long depended on the huge amount of sales tax generated by the Premium and Tanger outlets on the Interstate at Centerpoint Road. In the 2013 proposed budget, the city anticipates collecting 21.1 million in sales tax, accounting for about 45 percent of general fund revenue.

— ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MERCURY STAFF

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9 thoughts on “Study finds Mexican shoppers outspend Americans at outlet malls

  1. Excellent! Exports are good and adding more outside money to the local economy is a positive thing. I see nothing but good news here.

  2. Dont give them their tax money back ! They use our roads just like we do ! And make sure they go back !

  3. Wow. These folks are spending a ton of money. You’d think the expense of gas, lodging and meals would erode much if not erase the savings realized by shopping at outlets, but hey, that’s not our problem.

  4. Not sure they’re shopping for the savings. Maybe they are. Our Outlet Malls have been named one of the “top shopping destinations” in the world in at least a couple of stories. They may just be shopping for the variety. I’ve seen a Maserati out there, with tags from Mexico. I am guessing the owner isn’t a big discount shopper.

  5. The study addresses holiday shopping and only on a per capita basis, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Mexican Nationals outspend US shoppers at the outlets in aggregate as well.

    I know on the rare occasion that I venture into the hell that is the outlet mall, I’m always shocked to see the ratio of Mexican license plates to US ones. There are ALWAYS a ton of Mexican Nationals at the outlet mall. I’ve seen vans stuffed to the gills with clothing, presumably to be taken back to Mexico and resold. I’ve stood behind people in stores with $5,000 purchases (talk about a LONG receipt). And I’ve seen families of eight, each one loaded down with so many bags they can barely carry them.

    I’m all for them coming up here and leaving their money behind. Hopefully some of them stay a day or two and boost our hotel business as well.

    I don’t agree with the policy of refunding their sales tax to them before they leave, though. In my limited understanding, I think they do that under federal rules, with the premise being that the USA has no right to tax non-citizens?

  6. Everywhere I’ve traveled in the world, merchants, hotels, car rental businesses and restaurants have always been happy to charge me a full slate of local and value added taxes. I expect it, and so should visitors to the US.

    Those taxes should be collected in full and not refunded. Period.

  7. The State did everything possible to make Texas citizens pay sales taxes for online Amazon.com purchases but they are perfectly OK with refunding sales tax to Mexican citizens who buy products at a brick and mortar store in Texas.

    Makes no sense to me.

  8. If you don’t like tax refunds to international customers, talk to your congressman. It’s the federal government that has for years prophibited charging sales tax for sales that end up out of the US.

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