The deals attract many shoppers from across the state and the nation, but those spending the most at the two outlet malls in San Marcos, Texas are coming from across the border in Mexico.
A recent study published by Texas State University shows Mexican shoppers are spending twice as much at the outlets as Americans who live outside Austin and San Antonio.
“It’s the merchandise, prices and selection that is really the appeal,” said Dr. Ann Dupont, a professor with the School of Family and Consumer Studies at Texas State. “They’re not just coming to visit family and friends and happen to go by the mall, they’re coming to do that. It’s a destination.”
Marco Ochoa is a prime example.
For the second straight year, he and his family made the 11-hour drive from their home in Mexico to buy clothes and accessories to last the entire year.
Texas State students surveyed families during the holiday shopping season in 2008 and found the average Mexican-National family spent $1,568 per trip, while domestic shoppers spent $746 on one trip.
“We found that the people who stayed in hotels, motels and condos spent the most,” said Professor Pauline Sullivan with the School of Family and Consumer Studies at Texas State.
San Marcos Premium Outlets say shoppers from Mexico are drawn to the high-end brands, and it is getting easier to travel.
“We do work with shuttle services out of San Antonio,” said Lorena Garcia, marketing director for San Marcos Premium Outlets. “We work with some of the airline shuttles that have just launched in the San Antonio area as well that bring people in from Mexico.”
Retailers aren’t the only ones reaping the rewards.
The study also found for every dollar spent at a retail shop, an additional 44 cents was added to the local economy through other purchases such as fuel, food, lodging and entertainment.
Getting a better idea of who is coming to town can also help city leaders plan for the future.
“What isn’t here that would have the most appeal to them? Would it be a golf course which we’ve talked about for years? Would it be a certain type of family entertainment venue?” said Dupont. “When you know that there’s this big of a market staying that many days they can’t shop all the time.”
Texas State professors are trying to get additional funding to expand the study.
They would like to survey shoppers again now that the economy is recovering and study shoppers who come from Europe, China and India.