Border Shopping: Argentina, Chile Lure Bargain-Seekers Next Door

Patrick Archer arts & entertainment, lifestyle, tourism

Favorable exchange rates and the prospect of snatching up cheaper everything from laptops and lingerie to tablets and toys are prompting hundreds of thousands of Argentines and Uruguayans to make a run for the border with cash and credit cards in hand.

Cronista has back-to-back features this week highlighting this Southern Cone shopping trend beginning with the droves of deal-seekers in southern Argentina crossing the border to hit the strip malls and gallerias in neighboring Chile.

Every weekend brings a new wave of Mendoza, Neuquen and Rio Negro residents to Chilean shopping centers in towns like Los Andes where the same merchandise can cost 50% less than similar goods in Argentina due to the latter’s exorbitant import tariffs. Conversely, most Asian-made electronics like Canon cameras, Samsung cell phones and Sony flat-screens enter Chile with zero import tariffs.

Just as Argentines equate their western neighbor with bargains, so too do Uruguayans who are flooding Buenos Aires every weekend to embrace their own version of retail therapy. Cronista’s Nuria Rebon says almost a million Uruguayans have already made the shopping pilgrimage to Argentina this year.

In fact, the 903,000 Uruguayans entering Buenos Aires in the first half of this year was 41% higher than the same period last year, and the US$165 million they spent in the second quarter was 73% more than they spent between April and June of 2012.

The lure of shopping bargains makes Argentina the number one travel destination for Uruguayans by a mile: 77% compared to Brazil (13%) and Paraguay (4%). (Full Story in Spanish)

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