HARLINGEN — Sales tax reimbursement numbers released yesterday showed sharp drops from the previous month and last year in almost all major cities in the Rio Grande Valley.
Harlingen saw a year-over-year increase for February sales of just 0.84 percent, San Benito was up 0.93 percent and Los Fresnos was up 0.31 percent. Raymondville was down 19.74 percent, and Lyford was down 8.40 percent.
The only major gainer for the month was South Padre Island, where sales tax reimbursements for February were up 7.34 percent and 9.29 percent for the year.
Elsewhere in Cameron, Willacy and Hidalgo counties, every major city showed a drop in sales tax reimbursements year-over-year for February.
Sales tax reimbursements for Texas cities are regarded as an indicator of the health of a municipality’s retail sector. Many Valley cities have continued to suffer stunted retail sales due to the high peso-to-dollar exchange rate, which analysts and business experts believe has led many Mexican shoppers to stay home or limit purchases when they do buy in Valley retail stores.
Statewide numbers showed a strong fightback against low oil prices which have depressed retail sales in cities such as Midland and Houston.
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said $620.2 million in local sales tax allocations would be send to cities for the month, a 4.9 percent increase over April 2016.
“The cities of Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin saw noticeable increases in sales tax allocations,” Hegar said. “The cities of Sugar Land, McAllen, Irving and Grand Prairie saw noticeable decreases.”
The numbers for McAllen continue to show a retail slide, with the city down 6.95 percent for the month and 6.21 percent for the year.
By contrast, Harlingen has generally posted modest gains month-to-month in sales tax reimbursements and for the year finds itself up 3.43 percent.
Mercedes was down 9.09 percent for the month and 12.95 percent for the year. Edinburg was down 1.08 percent but still up 0.63 percent for the year.
Pharr, which had posted strong monthly retail sales numbers for the past few months, was instead off 8.74 percent for the month but still up 1.54 percent for the year. Weslaco was down 1.63 percent for the month and up 2.39 percent for the year.