SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — When the border restrictions came to an end mid-November of last year, business owners along San Ysidro Boulevard were elated, hoping better days were ahead, expecting the return of shoppers from Mexico.

But then something happened, or didn’t happen: visitors from south of the border never came back.

“We’ve never gotten back to pre-pandemic levels,” said Jason Wells, executive director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce.

Wells says they were hoping for a larger boost in sales, something that hasn’t materialized.

Shoppers from Mexico along San Ysidro Boulevard have not returned as expected following the lifting of border restrictions almost 11 months ago. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

“We were especially hit hard because on San Ysidro Boulevard, where the majority of businesses are mom-and-pop shops, 95% of the clientele comes from Mexico, and the large majority of that 95% have tourist visas and they were not allowed to cross,” said Wells.

Wells stated the pandemic was devastating to his membership.

Jason Wells is the Executive Director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

“We lost over 2,000 jobs, we hit the $1billion mark in lost sales, it was a huge effect to our small community.”

Wells blames long border wait times for keeping many shoppers away.

“One to two hour waits to cross, that’s a huge deterrent.”

Others, like Olivia Campos who runs Carolin Shoes, also point to Mexico’s inflation rates and sagging economy.

Wells agrees.

“A lot of people don’t have the spending power they used to have,” he said.

In spite of what’s happened, Wells remains upbeat and expects a brighter future for business owners along San Ysidro Boulevard.

“I’m sure business will be back.”