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Peso devaluation, politics concern Holy Week retailers

Sales tax figures next month will show any impact

SAN ANTONIO – Unlike years past, when Mexican shoppers would descend on San Antonio’s high-end stores during Holy Week, there is concern about the possible impact of the peso devaluation and the political climate in Washington and Mexico City.

Now that the political winds have changed, Ramiro Cavazos, president of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said, “We’re very concerned shopping at La Cantera, shops at North Star Mall, will be affected greatly by the negative, the vilifying of Mexicans by this administration,” Cavazos said.

Anecdotally, he said, retailers who appeal to Semana Santa shoppers already report a decline in visitors.

“In May, we’ll know,” Cavazos said of the time when sales tax figures are released. “There’s a lot of conversation that they’re seeing, they anticipate, this year will be slower when it comes to sales.”

Alejandro Garza from Monterrey said although many in Mexico may have had second thoughts about spending their money in the United States, “We don’t all think alike.”

Garza and his daughter, Jessica, said there are others like them that have made a return visit to San Antonio over Semana Santa.

“A lot of times, we’ve come here,” Jessica said.

The father and daughter were shopping on Good Friday at the Quarry Market off of U.S. Highway 281, not far from San Antonio International Airport.

Jessica said other times, when they’ve wanted to avoid the drive, they did their Holy Week shopping in Laredo and McAllen. But this year, given the crowds shopping along the border, they came to San Antonio only to find more crowds.

In response to the strained relations between the U.S. and Mexico, Garza, who has often traveled abroad, said, “There’s good and bad to everything.”

“I agree with that,” Jessica said. “We choose to see the good and bad and it doesn’t matter.”

Cavazos said retail members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce want to see more of what was detailed in its study on the spending patterns and impact of Mexican nationals.

He said as an example, in April 2015, “$50 million (was) spent by Mexican nationals in San Antonio.”

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