HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Holy Week is now underway, with Easter coming up this weekend. Here in the Rio Grande Valley, Holy Week is also an economic boost as people travel from Mexico to shop. However, restrictions non-essential travel are still in place.

Sergio Contreras is the president and CEO of RGV Partnership.

“Continue to shop local and remember the small business owners that been with us throughout the years and it is now our time to continue to shop with them,” he said.

He referenced a new study looking into the economic impact of travel restrictions along the US/Mexico border.

“…[the study] was between March and November of 2020 and that represented a significant loss for revenues for our community,” he said.

Stores have seen a lot less foot traffic, losing millions during top shopping times.

“The impact of Mexican shoppers is still being felt. The study found close to $4.2 billion is going to be impacted. Two billion of that is retail sales. So, there’s a significant impact for a lack of shoppers here,” he said.

There’s a bright spot, as federal grants and loans have help keep some businesses alive.

“There are protocols that we can follow and measures in place that can prevent us from getting COVID. A lot of us are getting vaccinated. County officials are doing an outstanding job,” he said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the pandemic has had a massive impact on the labor market. The long-term effects are still unclear.