SAN YSIDRO, Calif. (Border Report) — Carolin Shoes has been a fixture on San Ysidro Boulevard for many years, now less than a mile from the border crossing after relocating to a tiny strip mall 18 months ago.
The move has not been as successful as owners would’ve liked.
Just a few months in, the pandemic arrived and customers disappeared as essential travel restrictions were put in place at the San Ysidro Port of Entry and other land ports along the border.
“We are having a very bad time, I will tell you that,” store manager Olivia Campos said.
The essential travel restrictions enacted in March of 2020 prohibit border crossings for the sake of shopping.
Campos says it has been very trying and difficult for them and others along the boulevard who depend on tourists from Mexico for their sales and income.
“Usually about 50 to 70 percent of the customers are from Mexico for sure and we really need Mexicans to come to shop with us to be honest,” said Campos, whose store not only sells shoes, but backpacks, shirts and other clothing.
According to Campos, the shop’s employees have taken the brunt of the economic woes.
“The employees are working only about three days, we cut a lot of days, we need more employees but we cannot afford it right now until the border opens then we can hire somebody else,” Campos said.
The restrictions have made a very negative economic impact on border communities just north of the border from California all the way to Texas.
According to a report from the Baker Institute for Public Policy, counties along the concluded that counties along the Texas-Mexico border lost nearly $4.9 billion in economic activity during the first eight months of the pandemic.
The study also found the retail sector missed out on approximately $2 billion from March to November 2020, and local governments have lost around $242.6 million in sales tax revenue alone, according to the report.
Help could be around the corner.
Published reports indicate the Biden administration is considering relaxing travel restrictions as early as Friday at border crossings with Mexico and Canada and on inbound international travel from the U.K., Europe and Brazil.
This is something Campos has been waiting for.
“For us, it’s really important that the border is open because we have more chances to make a sale and with more customers more possibilities to survive because we are having a terrible year,” she said.