SAN DIEGO — Big changes are in store for the number of businesses near the United States and Mexico border as travel restrictions have been lifted for nonessential travelers. On Monday the border opened for all fully vaccinated travelers coming to the United States, a step that many business owners hope help their bottom lines.
Many small businesses near the border have been struggling to stay open and survive during the border closure that began in March of 2020.
The manager at Perfume Network of California said from 2019 to 2020 business went down 60%.
"Last year because there were so many things I closed for a couple of months," said Satish Sharma, Perfume Network of California manager.
According to the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, $1.3 billion in lost sales can be attributed to the COVID-19 border restrictions and closure. During a press conference on Monday morning to celebrate the reopening one speaker said, “With $1.3 billion in lost sales, with tios and tias who haven’t seen their family, with the 2,000 families who lost their ability to feed their children through job loss, we are all essential. This was discrimination against tourism, it was crossings that were employee-related and non-employee related, we are all essential.”
The executive director for the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce says 2,200 jobs were lost and the businesses that survived are operating at a 26 percent sales rate.
"There is a lot of pent-up visits and shopping that in and of itself will not be enough to overcome 276 businesses losses," said Jason Wells, Executive Director, San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce.
The closure and restrictions have led to many businesses closing for good. In fact, out of 800 or more border businesses, 276 have closed due to the restrictions.
Wells says the Chamber came up with a recovery plan that needs political and financial support to ensure businesses are sustainable such as implementing e-commerce.
"If I can augment 20,30 percent with online sales then if something like this happens again, they are not having to lay off 2 or three more people," said Wells.
The opening of the Mexico border for nonessential tourism is a huge win for San Ysidro where 86% of their customers come from Mexico, especially right before the holiday shopping season.
"I think slowly but surely it will come back to normalcy," said Alex Espinoza with Rossy's Fashion.
It isn’t just family-owned businesses that are hoping for a boost in sales. The Las Americas Outlets are expected to be very busy with so much holiday shopping needing to be done.
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