The Border Means Business in 2018
By Rodger Seelert — 2/27/2018

Border Means Business

 The Real Story is Brick & Mortar Retail!                 

Table of Contents                                                     

1.     Retail Phenomenon 

2.     The 11 Most Significant Ports of Entry

  1.  Tijuana-San Diego, CA.
  2.  Mexicali-El Centro, CA.
  3.  San Luis Rio-Yuma, AZ.
  4.  Nogales-Nogales, AZ.
  5.  Agua Prieta-Douglas, AZ.
  6.  Ciudad Juarez-El Paso, TX.
  7.  Ciudad Acuna-Del Rio, TX.
  8.  Piedras Negras-Eagle Pass, TX
  9.  Nuevo Laredo-Laredo, TX.
  10.  Reynosa-McAllen, TX.
  11.  Matamoros-Brownsville, TX.          

Retail Phenomenon

There is a retail phenomenon taking place every day along the border with Mexico!  An average of more than 514,100 people enter the U.S. from Mexico daily.  Approximately 66% of all northbound crossings are for the primary purpose of shopping.

339,300 daily shoppers!

$55,000,000+ in retail spending each day!

$18 to $22 Billion per year!

In 2017, Northbound Border Crossings grew again, to 187,670,880  An increase of over 1.4% from 2016!

The significant border crossing Ports-of-Entry.


Tijuana/San Diego, CA. (Includes San Ysidro, Otay and Tecate POEs)

This is the busiest international border crossing in the world!

Tijuana is one of the fastest growing communities in Mexico, with a current population of nearly 2,000,000.

68% of all Tijuana residents travel by automobile to San Diego to shop.

The third phase of the Port of Entry renovation project was recently completed, significantly reducing the wait-times to enter the U.S. during the construction. The 4th and final phase is now underway.  There are now 34 lanes with double-stacked inspection booths (68 total) at San Ysidro!

2017 individual north-bound crossings:  51,992,022. A slight increase over 2016, even during construction!

Estimated California regional economic impact:  $6,000,000,000 annually.

Mexicali/El Centro, CA.  (Includes Calexico, Calexico East)

Mexicali is the capital city of Baja California and home to nearly 1,000,000 people. 

It is a government, education and agricultural center. 

Residents of Mexicali are the dominant component for retail sales in the El Centro area.

2017 individual north-bound crossings:  19,592,009. Another new record!

Estimated California regional economic impact: $2,750,000,000 annually.

Mexico residents impact on Imperial Valley retail sales: 39%


Yuma/San Luis Rio Colorado, AZ.  (Includes Andrade POE)

SLRC is the northeastern-most city in the state of Sonora, Mexico and approximately 45 miles east of Mexicali.  The current population is 165,000; nearly double that of Yuma, Arizona.

Yuma is the largest community in the area and draws shoppers from Mexicali, SLRC and others, with a better mix of shopping options.  The Andrade, California POE is located just 10 miles from Yuma.

2017 individual north-bound crossings: 10,406,341.   4.47% increase over 2016, and a new record!

Estimated Arizona regional economic impact: $1,050,000,000 annually

Mexico residents impact on Yuma retail sales: 35%

Nogales/Nogales, AZ.  (Includes Sasabe & Lukeville POE’s)

The Nogales POE’s serves as the main gateway for travelers from throughout Sonora, heading toward Nogales, Tucson and Phoenix.  The volume of traffic at this crossing exceeds expectation for a community the size of Nogales.  Nogales, Sonora is nearly 8 times the size of Nogales, Arizona, with a population of over 160,000,

Most shoppers from Mexico, driving personal vehicles, continue on to Tucson (45 minutes), for greater shopping options.

2017 individual north-bound crossings: 12,265,132.  5% increase over 2016, and another new record!

Estimated Arizona regional economic impact: $1,500,000,000

Mexican residents impact on Nogales, AZ retail sales: 60%

Mexico residents impact on Pima County (Tucson) retail sales: 18%

Agua Prieta/Douglas (Includes Naco POE)

This is a perhaps surprisingly upscale community located 35 miles west of the Arizona-New Mexico border.  The Mexico communities of Agua Prieta and Cananea (125,000) double the populations of Douglas, Bisbee and Sierra Vista, Arizona, combined.  A study conducted by the University of Arizona indicated 81.6 percent of Mexican residents entering the United States through the Douglas port did so for the purpose of shopping—the highest proportion of all ports of entry in the State of Arizona.

2017 individual north-bound crossings: 4,712,701, eclipsing the record set in 2015!

Estimated Arizona regional economic impact: $545,000,000 annually.

Mexico residents impact on Douglas/Sierra Vista retail sales: 40%      


Ciudad Juarez/El Paso, TX.  (Includes Santa Teresa, NM & Fabens, TX POE’s)

This is one of the world’s busiest borders and the second largest volume of any U.S. border.

Currently, Ciudad Juarez is a community of 1,500,000, nearly doubling the population of the entire El Paso County. (800,000) 

The international region boasts the third largest population along the U.S.-Mexico border, with over 2,500,000 inhabitants.  Many estimates suggest that residents of Juarez account for as much as 50% of all El Paso retail revenue.

2017 individual north-bound crossings: 31,324,360.  7.8% increase over 2016!  Largest % increase of any POE!

Estimated Texas regional economic impact: $3,625,000,000 annually.

Mexico residents impact on El Paso County retail sales: 28%

Ciudad Acuna/Del Rio, TX.

Ciudad Acuna is the fastest growing city in Mexico and nearly 5 times the size of their northern neighbor, Del Rio.

The estimated population for Acuna now exceeds 225,000.  The population for Del Rio is 40,549

2017 individual north-bound crossings: 3,410,188.  300,000 increase over 2016, and a new record!

Estimated Texas regional economic impact: $420,000,000 annually.

Mexico residents impact on Del Rio retail sales: 60%

Piedras Negras/Eagle Pass, TX

Piedras Negras is another of the rapidly growing communities on the northern border of Mexico.  The current population exceeds 245,150.  The sister-city of Eagle Pass has a current population of 48,500.  Many residents of communities south of Piedras Negras, including Torreon and Monclova, utilize the Eagle Pass Port-of-Entry when travelling to San Antonio, or beyond.  The popular Mexican dish “Nachos” were first created in Piedras Negras.

2017 individual north-bound crossings: 6,416,836, and another new record!

Estimated Texas regional economic impact: $810,000,000 annually.

Mexico residents impact on Eagle Pass retail sales: 64%

Nuevo Laredo/Laredo, TX.

Located along the Rio Grande River, Nuevo Laredo is the largest inland port in Mexico.  The Port of Entry between the two Laredo’s is among the busiest in the world.  The Nuevo Laredo metropolitan area is larger than their northern neighbor and has a population of more than 380,000.  Laredo, Texas, with a population of 259,100 is the third largest U.S. city along the border (Following San Diego and El Paso).  Laredo is also one of two key POE’s utilized by travelers from Monterrey, Mexico.

2017 individual north-bound crossings: 14,233,726.  An 8% decrease from 2016.

Estimated Texas regional economic impact: $1,650,000,000 annually.

Mexico residents impact on Laredo retail sales: 48%

Reynosa/McAllen, TX (Includes Roma, Rio Grande City, Hidalgo & Progreso POE’s)

Reynosa is the largest city in the state of Tamaulipas and the third largest Mexican city along the U.S. border.  Permanent residents number above 725,000, with an additional floating population of nearly 200,000.   The McAllen community north of Reynosa is often referred to as the Rio Grande Valley, as it encompasses several other communities, including Hidalgo and Pharr, Texas.

2017 individual north-bound crossings: 17,894,645.  200,000 increase from 2016 and the second highest total ever.

Estimated Texas regional economic impact: $2,000,000,000 annually.

Mexico residents impact on Rio Grande Valley retail sales: 38%

Matamoros/Brownsville, TX.

This is the eastern-most Port-of-Entry from Mexico into the U.S. and one of the most important.  Matamoros is a rapidly growing community of over 500,000, with an additional floating population of 200,000 or more.  In recent years Matamoros has become a significant manufacturing region, particularly in the automotive industry, with assembly plants for General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and several others, generating thousands of well-paying jobs.  The communities of Brownsville, Harlingen and several others lie to the north of Matamoros.

2017 individual north-bound crossings: 12,853,433.  And another new record!

Estimated Texas regional economic impact: $1,950,000,000 annually.

Mexico residents impact on Rio Grande Valley retail sales: 38%

What You Should Know…

In every case but one, (San Diego) the Mexican communities along our border are larger than the U.S. communities to the north.

Mexican border markets are among the most affluent of all Mexican communities.

Border markets are the fastest growing cities in Mexico with 5% or more annual growth.

More than 50% of all employment in Mexican border markets is “White Collar”

The Economics…

The mind-set for most Americans is incorrect: 

Retail items do not cost less in Mexico, they cost more…in many cases, significantly more!

Consumer Preferences…

Listed below are a few of the product categories and rationale for why residents of Mexico prefer to come to the United States to shop for a significant portion of their household needs. 


Most all clothing, including designer wear, underwear, jeans, jackets, dresses, suits, and shoes…for the entire family are less expensive and of higher quality in the U.S.   Jewelry for both men, and women; watches and accessories such as bags, scarves and sunglasses are offered in greater selection and are usually less expensive.  Almost all cosmetic items, including all major “Brand Names” are less expensive and more readily available in the U.S.  Most all perfumes, colognes and accessories are also less expensive in the U.S.

Household Items:

All kitchenware, towels, carpets & rugs, lamps, framed art, linens, pillows and bedding, all assembly-required and pre-assembled furniture, along with vinyl and laminated  flooring is less expensive and of better quality in the U.S.

Consumer Electronics and Appliances:

All consumer electronics are less expensive and more readily available in the U.S.  This includes all personal electronics, such as smart devices, cell phones and music players.  Home appliances, such as vacuums, toasters, blenders, coffee makers, hair dryers, etc., are at least 35% less expensive when purchased in the U.S.  Computers, software, hardware and accessories are always less expensive in the U.S.

Consumer electronics, with the exception of television assembly, are not manufactured in Mexico.  If they are, they are designated for export only.  Importing electronics into Mexico is expensive and requires high duty and tax fees.  The quality and availability of tech-support is very poor in Mexico, if available at all.  Stores in Mexican border communities cannot compete with U.S. selection, pricing, quality and warranty service.

Auto Parts:                                                               

Accessories, alarms, tires, wheels, additives, oil, oil filters, and parts in general, are considerably less expensive and of higher quality, in the US.  Warranties and return policies are superior to what is available in Mexico.


Most all canned foods, frozen foods, including ice-cream and other frozen desserts, packed salads, dressings, sliced bread, cereals, instant soups, spaghetti sauce, canned soda and chicken and non-food items are less expensive in the US.  Mexican supermarkets offer products which are transported from southern Mexico. Due to the distance between the point of origin and the border, they are often inferior in quality and cost more.


U.S. Bureau of Transportation/Research of Innovative Technology Administration/Border Crossing Entry Data-2017

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) 2017

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Team NAFTA/Market Profiles

San Diego Dialogue/University of California, San Diego

The Economic Impact of Mexican Visitors/University of Texas, Pan American

Crossborder Business/Crossborder Group, Inc.

Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT)

Southeast Arizona Economic Development Group (SAEDG)

Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia (INEGI)

Gobierno Municipal Tijuana Official Website (

Gobierno Municipal Mexicali Official Website (

Gobierno Municipal San Luis Rio Colorado Official Website (

Gobierno Municipal Nogales Official Website (

Gobierno Municipal Agua Prieta Official Website (

Gobierno Municipal Ciudad Juarez Official Website (

Gobierno Municipal Ciudad Acuna Official Website (

Gobierno Municipal Piedras Negras Official Website (

Gobierno Municipal Nuevo Laredo Official Website (

Gobierno Municipal Reynosa Official Website (

Gobierno Municipal Matamoros Official Website (

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