Border continues to see surge in retail sales

McALLEN — Shopping Centers Today, an online retail industry publication, recently released an article highlighting the strength of retail development along the Texas/Mexico border and to no surprise to city leaders, McAllen continues to lead the surge in retail sales and development along the border.

The growth is in response to the large number of shoppers from Mexico who find retail centers along the Texas border being developed to welcome them. According to the article, the influx of shoppers spurred developers, both locally and abroad, to grow their retail presence on the United States side, particularly in the Rio Grande Valley.

“McAllen is a bi-cultural city; we are an American city that speaks Spanish,” McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said. “Mexican nationals can shop in almost any store and be greeted in Spanish, helping them to feel more welcome as they come seeking products found in America.”

McAllen has a strong partnership with leading global mall developer Simon, whose property, the 1.2 million-square-foot La Plaza Mall, is receiving a 245,000-square foot addition. The multi-million-dollar expansion which will include 50 stores, six restaurants and two parking decks is slated to further define La Plaza Mall’s status as the ultimate luxury shopping destination in deep South Texas.

The city of McAllen contributed $20 million toward the construction of the two parking decks to help spur that development which will later be returned to city coffers and to pay the debt service for the contribution via a sales tax agreement. Grand opening festivities for the expansion are set for sometime during fall of 2017.

Part of McAllen’s retail strength comes from Mexican shoppers, who flock from Reynosa and Saltillo and even as far away asMonterrey to take advantage of McAllen’s vast retail and hospitality offerings, despite the fluctuating Mexican peso. La Plaza Mall marketing director Isabel Rodriguez said approximately 40 percent of La Plaza visitors travel from Mexico.

McAllen receives a substantial amount of sales tax revenue generated by Mexican shoppers, contributing billions in annual gross retail sales tax revenue to the McAllen economy, said Rebecca M. Olaguibel, retail and business development director for the city of McAllen.

La Plaza Mall, the largest retail shopping center south of San Antonio, generates $400 million in sales per year, according to David Contis, president of Simon’s mall division.

“We are part of the economic engine in McAllen and we are proud to be that,” Contis said.

Other new or expanding projects are near the state-ofthe- art McAllen Convention Center, which is owned and operated by the city. The facility has quickly become the epicenter for regional events and annual state, regional and national conferences.