El Paso experienced a 11.2 percent increase in 1996 retail sales from 1995. The city's retail sales have increased annually over the past 12 years, in spite of having two national economies impacting its growth. Part of this increase can be explained by El Paso's overall population growth which continues to grow at a rate of 2.5 percent. Wholesale and Retail trade remains the largest employment sector and is anticipated to experience steady growth through 1997 and into 1998, in spite of the 1994 peso devaluation. Large retailers like Wal-Mart, Big 8 Foods, The Sports Authority, and Hobby Lobby continue to expand in the El Paso retail market and have all opened stores in the last year. A new 140 store retail outlet mall has also been planned for the west side.

The restaurant business also remains strong in El Paso with many national chains such as T.G.I. Fridays, Applebee's, and Chili's expanding in the past year. Additionally, many locally owned restaurants have opened in the city through 1997 with this trend anticipated to continue through 1998.

Click here for the 1998 Trade Analysis.