MCALLEN, Texas – Overall sales tax revenue collections in the Rio Grande Valley were up in August, as compared to the same month last year.

Considering the headwinds the Valley faced, such as the international bridges biding closed to “non-essential” travel, and COVID-19 still plaguing the region, the economy did very well.

This is the opinion of Matt Ruszczak, executive director of Rio South Texas Economic Council. Every month, Ruszczak analyses the sales tax data collated by the Texas Comptroller’s Office.

“We actually did quite well, up 1.77 percent in August 2020,” Ruszczak said. “Considering all the factors in play, considering all the headwinds, that is a really good result.”

By comparison, the State of Texas as a whole saw sales tax revenues dip in August, down 1.38 percent down. “So, we were outperforming the state,” Ruszczak explained.

Here is a Zoom conversation with Matt Ruszczak about the sales tax revenue collections for August 2020:

The Valley has 44 communities reporting sales tax revenue numbers to the Texas Comptroller’s Office. Of these, 33 were up in August 2020, as compared to the same month last year.

“Eight of the 44 were up over 20 percent. They had a fantastic August,” Ruszczak said.

Hidalgo County saw a 2.31 percent increase in sales tax revenue collections in August. Cameron County’s figure was down 0.45 percent. Willacy County’s figure was down 6.19 perfect, while Starr County’s was up 17.8 percent. 

“Another banner month for Starr County,” Ruszczak said.

Of the individual cities in Hidalgo County, Edinburg’s sales tax revenues were up 2.53 percent in August. McAllen’s sales tax revenues were down 4.59 percent, while Mercedes’ sales tax revenues were down 29.58 percent.

Mission saw its sales tax revenues rise 7.7 percent in August. Pharr saw its numbers go up 16.46 percent and Weslaco’s number was up 8.99 percent.

In Cameron County, Brownsville’s sales tax revenues were down 6.55 percent in August. Harlingen’s number was up 5.89 percent, and San Benito’s number was up 13.82 percent. Port Isabel’s sales tax revenue collections were down 4.77 percent in August, and South Padre Island’s number was down 5.09 percent.

In Willacy County, Raymondville’s sales tax revenue collections were down 7.05 percent in August.

In Starr County, Rio Grande City’s sales tax revenue collections were up 18.76 percent in August.

August is the tenth month of the Comptroller’s 12-month reporting period. Year to date, the Valley’s sales tax revenue collections have only dipped 0.33 percent. For the state of Texas as a whole, there has been a slight increase, up 0.04 percent.

Over the first ten months of the annual reporting period, 32 of the Valley’s 44 communities have seen an increase in sales tax revenue collections.

Of these 44, 24 have seen an increase of five percent, while eight out of the 44 have seen an increase of more than 20 percent. “That is an amazing result,” Ruszczak said.

Analyzing the first ten months, Ruszczak pointed a “Covid shift,” whereby consumers are not traveling as far to go to stores or restaurants.

“The money is there, people are still spending money but they have changed the way they are spending money. We are seeing some our our bedroom communities outperforming some of our magnet communities.”

Ruszczak added: “The consumer in the Valley as a whole is strong enough to support the overall ecosystem of retail sales, but they are behaving differently to how they did in the past. That for me is a big positive. Because once we return to normalcy, or a new normalcy, there is a tremendous amount of potential for growth in the region.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows the entrance to Bass Pro Shops in Harlingen, Texas.

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