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Going to the Galleria

I believe it’s been well known for a long time now that a sizeable percentage of shoppers at Houston’s high end mall the Galleria are from Mexico, but I’m still a bit surprised to see it expressed in such stark terms.

Red, green and white are more than just traditional holiday colors to Patricia Porto.

The many wealthy shoppers visiting her boutique this Christmas season make her think of another color scheme — that of the Mexican flag.

The Galleria has long been a favorite among both Mexico’s elite and middle class.

At least 20 percent of the shopping center’s customers come from Mexico.

“Without the Mexicans, there is no Galleria,” said Porto, who counts Mexican customers as 70 percent of her business.

Now that’s just one shopkeeper’s opinion, and what it may mean could be “Without the Mexicans, I’d be out of business”. That’s clearly the case here, but it doesn’t have to be sitewide. I’m inclined to believe that she’s discussed this with some colleagues who are in a similar position, though, and if it’s true for enough of them, that’s close enough.

Not too surprisingly, most of the business from these foreign visitors is for the real expensive stuff, but the story did note that some middle class folks make a regular trek up north, too. The fear of terror attacks slowed things down recently, but there’s a bigger factor at work:

[Porto] remembers when, in the 1980s after two peso devaluations and a recession, fewer Mexican customers shopped at Galleria stores.

And for the last two years, business was slow. Many Mexicans were afraid to travel to the United States because of the terrorist attacks.

But business has picked up again, despite the recent weakening of the Mexican peso against the U.S. dollar. And, for some middle-class Mexican shoppers, that’s an important factor in the decision of whether to come to the United States.

“When there’s a big difference in the exchange rate, it affects how they want to spend their money,” Tourneau’s general manager, Ed Gelber, said. “If they have so much money that it doesn’t matter, then it doesn’t matter.”

Nice to know our weak-dollar policy is good for something.

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4 Comments

  1. It’s not a weak-dollar policy, it’s a free-floating dollar policy. That the markets have decided the dollar is too strong has little to do policy. The various currency runs during the 90s showed how foolish it is for governments to try and artificially change the value of their currency rather than reform their fiscal policies.

    If a strong dollar is in America’s interest, then scaling back the deficit spending would be a good start.

  2. Bruce Bartlett thinks we have a weak-dollar policy in place. So does Brad DeLong.

  3. kevin whited says:

    Geez, Charles, between the Santa Claus/mall post and this one, you’d think we were in the midst of the great depression or something.

    Have a little cheer, why don’t you?! It’s Christmas!

    Ho ho ho! 🙂

  4. ferdinand redelijk says:

    great to see that patricia is doing well . Old friend from Holland