WESLACO, Texas – The Rio Grande Valley had a “fantastic” Christmas if measured by sales tax revenue collections. 

For the months of November and December 2020 combined, the Valley’s sales tax revenues were up 8.26 percent, as compared to the same months in 2019. This compares to the State of Texas as a whole recording only aa 2.43 percent growth.

Nueces County was down 1.01 percent and Webb County was down 2.11 percent, for the same two months in 2020.

“More than triple the rate of growth of the state as a whole. A fantastic result by any stretch of the imagination,” said Matt Ruszczak, executive director of Rio South Texas Economic Council, when reflecting on the latest sales tax figures. 

Every month, Ruszczak analyzes sales tax revenue data from the Texas Comptroller’s Office for the Rio Grande Guardian and KURV Radio.

“Christmas is obviously a very important season for retailers. It is when they start making money. It is the most impactful time period of all, particularly this year. It was the real true test for the strengths of our local consumer,” he said, in a conversation on Zoom.

The 2020 numbers are all the more impressive, he said, because border bridges were, due to COVID-19 restrictions, closed to “non-essential” travelers from Mexico. These would include Mexican shoppers that in other years would have been filling the region’s  shopping malls.

All four counties in the Valley did well in November and December 2020. Cameron County’s sales tax revenues were up 9.15 percent, compared to the same two months in 2019. Willacy County saw a staggering increase of 26.56 percent. Hidalgo County was up 7.75 percent. And Starr County was up 7.04 percent. 

“These are fantastic numbers,” Ruszczak said.

Of the 44 cities in the Valley, 38 had sales tax revenue collections in November and December 2020 that were more than five percent greater than the same months in 2019. And, 18 of the 44 had increases of 20 percent or higher.

Here is the Zoom conversation with Matt Ruszczak:

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows La Plaza Mall in McAllen, Texas.

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