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U.S. border opening brings business boom to southern Arizona

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 10:21 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The U.S. border opened to non-essential travelers on Monday, Nov. 8, for the first time in nearly two years. This is expected to bring millions of Mexican consumers to southern Arizona, which would aid in Tucson’s economic recovery following the pandemic.

This boost for businesses could lead to fewer items on the shelf for holiday shoppers.

The last time the border was open in 2019, more than four million people crossed to come to southern Arizona. It’s what Visit Tucson’s Dan Gibson says is missing from Tucson’s economy right now.

“It’s a huge market for us and that money just comes into the economy all week long and weekends as well, and that’s also with restaurants on the side. So losing that income is really a challenge to some on the sales tax level,” Gibson said.

Gibson says the opportunity to have consumers from the other side of the border back again is invaluable. Businesses are already seeing things pick up.

″I think you’ll just see a lot more traffic than you did at this same time last year or anytime during the pandemic since the border was fully closed. It is a big part of Tucson culture to have Mexican shoppers here, it just is,” he said.

And though businesses will benefit from this consumer boom, it may lead to even more empty shelves on top of the growing supply chain issue.

“We’re in the middle of these supply chain issues. Mexican consumers are a big part of the retail economy here. So hopefully people will be able to keep things stocked and there will be something for everybody, but it is going to change sort of the patterns of the way people shop,” he said.

Gibson expects it to be a big year for holiday shopping as more communities return to normalcy. If you’re planning to shop at chain retail stores, you’ll want to get it done as soon as possible.

One way to avoid slim pickings on shelves is to shop local.

“There’s people who make a lot of interesting, great stuff that you may not be reliant on the supply chain for if it’s on hold or stuck on a ship outside of Long Beach. The more Tucsonans and Mexican consumers can support this area, all the better,” Gibson said.

Travelers crossing the border must be fully vaccinated. U.S. customers and border protection says they expect to see an influx of people looking to cross the border over the weekend.

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