Border Economic Impact Study Shows Spending Habits


The Imperial County Board of Supervisors approved the border impact study that outlines the shopping habits of Mexicali residents in the Imperial Valley.

The border economic impact study was funded by the Economic Development Administration in order to study the impact and benefits of north bound border crossers from Mexicali on Imperial County’s retail and workforce. The survey was delivered in Spanish and English to northbound travelers in five consecutive days in November and December, 2016.

The county hired the Michael Baker International and Crossborder Group to administer a travel behavior survey of cross border travelers from Mexicali to Imperial Valley.

Community and Economic Development Director Esperanza Colio-Warren said that there has always been a speculation about the economic border impact, but there has never been an actual report.

“The purpose of this subject is to know why people from Mexicali come to Imperial Valley and what they coming for and also their shopping behavior so we can know about their economic impact,” Colio-Warren said. “Some investors may not be interested in investing in Imperial Valley if we tell them that we only have 180,000 population. This report will demonstrate the economic impact we receive from Mexicali’s residents and their shopping behavior.”

Of the 1,073 survey respondents, 97.4 percent were from Mexicali. Seventeen percent spent an average of $100 while sixty-percent of respondents spent an average of $50. The survey respondents represented only two percent of the daily number of the border crossing. Top four purchases targeted for this survey were clothing, food, footwear, and electronics. The average expenditures per person were $7,280 per year.

Clothing and food were the most common types of purchases, followed by footwear and electronics. Toys and gasoline tied for fifth and sixth while cosmetics/perfume/toiletries and pet food tied for seventh and eighth. Household item supplies were the ninth most common type of purchase. Big spenders bought electronics and toys. Moderate or minimal spenders bought clothing, food, footwear, and gasoline more frequently than big spenders did.

Nearly seventy percent of respondents visited the United States at least once a week and nearly sixty percent of respondents shopped in retail stores in the Imperial Valley at least once a week. Better quality and more variety of products were the top reasons for shopping in the Imperial Valley, the report stated.

Colio-Warren said that the change in the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Mexican peso has significant impacts on the overall expenditures for cross-border shoppers. Between January 2010 and December 2016, the value of the peso decreased by 37.5 percent.