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Weaker peso could impact Holy Week shopping

Despite a weaker peso, a surge of Mexican visitors is arriving at San Antonio shopping destinations.

SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of Mexican Nationals are arriving in San Antonio for Holy Week vacation and shopping, but their spending is likely to be curtailed by a weaker peso.

"It costs more pesos to get $1," said Jose Luis Montibeller, who arrived Monday with his family to take in a little Shamu and shopping.

A glance at the license plates in the parking lot of The Shops at La  Cantera tells you the exodus is on.

"We already had a steady influx over the weekend, but this weekend is definitely going to be the busiest weekend," said Dustin Christensen, marketing manager for The Shops at La Cantera and North Star Mall.

For retailers, this is one of the biggest weeks of the year. Spending by Mexican Nationals nearly doubles during the month, that includes Semana Santa, or Holy Week, according to economic studies.

"We cannot find all of these kinds of stores where we are," Montibeller said.

Just how much the shopping tourists will spend remains to be seen. Last month, the peso dipped to its lowest level since its devaluation 20 years ago.

Several families acknowledged  the weaker peso means they will have less buying power.

"It used to be 12 pesos to get $1. Now, it's 15. So, we're  being more cautious," said shopper Christina Garcia.

Ana Paola Ochoa, who was shopping with her family from Mexico, said this year they will be more frugal.

"It's not the same as last year, but maybe a few less (purchases)," said Ochoa. "We can think better what to shop (for)."

One retail clerk commented that spending is tighter this year.

With so many visitors arriving daily by car and airplane, the local economy is expected to see a boost. But it may be less robust because of less peso power.

Still, the local shopping malls are doing what they can to cater to the visitors who make the annual pilgrimage.

"That shopper has always been important to us," Christensen said.


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