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Study finds Mexican shoppers outspend American counterparts by 2-1 margin

By Matt Flores
University News Service
September 11, 2012

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-San Marcos 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.