MCALLEN, RGV – After several months of declining sales tax revenues, the Rio Grande Valley had a positive boost in May 2017, according to a new report by the Texas Comptroller’s Office.
The report shows Cameron County was able to recover after months of declining sales tax figures. Cities like South Padre Island, Harlingen, San Benito and Port Isabel are driving up the numbers, making the county go positive at 0.18 percent for the year to date. The year to date figure is November 2016, thru May 2017. Sales tax revenues in Cameron County were up 3.49 percent in May, as compared to May 2016.
In Hidalgo County, McAllen monthly sales figures were also positive, but Edinburg, Mission, and Alamo continue to be in the negative. Weslaco and Donna have shown consistent positive numbers. Sales tax revenues in Hidalgo County were up 1.65 percent in May, as compared to May 2016. Year to date, the percentage in Hidalgo County is down 2.04 percent.
The numbers for Mercedes show the city continue to struggle to bring up their sales tax revenues. Mercedes is one of the Valley cities that rely heavily on Mexican shoppers. The report is a mixed bag with some cities still in the negative and some showing positive growth, but Mercedes has far more lower numbers than any other city in both Cameron and Hidalgo County.
Matt Ruszczak, executive director of the Rio South Texas Economic Council, said overall the sales tax figures in the region are improving.
“I think we’re starting to see definitely a positive upwards trend,” Ruszczak said. “If you look at the overall numbers here, looking at May, and seeing, hey Cameron County is up as a whole, Hidalgo County is up as a whole. Even though we still see some weakness in the peso during those months, during in the month of May compared to the previous year, I think that’s quite encouraging. Looking from there into the future, the peso continues to strengthen. So, we’ll see as the next months numbers come in if the trend continues. Right now on that outlook its positive.”
Ruszczak said that even with a weaker peso than the year before, it hasn’t affected this month’s positive figures.
“It’s important to keep in mind as we look at these numbers that in May the peso in May of 2017 was still weaker than it was in May of 2016,” Ruszczak said. “In May of 2016 the currency was between 17.1 and 18.5 and in May of 2017, we’re between 18.4 and 19.2. So not a huge discrepancy between the two, but still weaker for May of 2017 than May of 2016, so positive numbers on the bottom line across the region besides still the slight weakness of the peso compared to the euro every year are positive.”
The year to date of the report consists of seven months, from November 2016 to May 2017, with each monthly report two months behind due to the data collection process.
“My real take away from this that it looks pretty good,” Ruszczak said. “I’m really curious to see next months report for the June sales because we finally have the parody in the exchange rate and we’ll get to see what it actually looks like. Apples to apples.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story is from fortune.com.