Mexican shoppers bring peso power to San Antonio for Holy Week

Shops at La Cantera expects healthy crowds

The Holy Week exodus from Mexico to San Antonio shopping malls is under way, and retailers are hoping for a profitable week as peso has gained strength against the dollar.

The parking lot at the Shops at La Cantera was beginning to fill up Monday with pickups and SUVs bearing Mexico license plates.

"We're expecting a very healthy week in terms of traffic," said Donald Wearden, who oversees visitors markets and tourism for the Shops at La Cantera and North Star Mall.

For Mexicans, traveling to San Antonio for a vacation is a tradition during Holy Week, or Semana Santa.

Ximena Torres, 16, who had just arrived with her family, was ready to shop.

"I like a lot of the clothes here, and my sister likes the Apple Store," she said.

She planned to shop 'til she dropped a stores like Aeropostale, Gap, Juicy Couture, Forever 21 and others that she said do not have stores in Mexico.

Adrian Locga's family had already shopped the outlets in San Marcos and dined at Red Lobster. They came to San Antonio to shop for a suit for his confirmation.

"(San Antonio) has more things, more clothes, and that's why we like to buy here and the prices are cheaper," he said.

Mexican's wallets have more purchasing power now their economy has strengthened.

So, retailers and mall managers were hopeful for a profitable week.

"Right now, the peso has gained ground against the dollar exchange, so that's going to be positive," Wearden said. "Also, confidence from the Mexican consumer now that the elections are over will also probably contribute to having a great Easter here in San Antonio."

Foreign shoppers do give the local economy a big boost.

Mexican nationals spent $47.7 million in Bexar County last April, more than twice what the spent the month before when they spent $20.3 million, according to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Another incentive for international shoppers is that they can get their sales tax reimbursed before they head home.

While the malls were beginning to see Mexican tourists arrive just after Palm Sunday, Wearden said the biggest numbers were expected Thursday through Saturday.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.


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