Estimated at 42.5 million, Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the U.S., representing 14 percent of the population. By 2010, their numbers should reach 52 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The annual median household income for Hispanics in the U.S. surpassed $40,000 and their disposable income is growing. By now many retailers have developed exclusive apparel brands designed by Latino celebrities. But is that enough? “Developing an apparel line isn’t an end-all,” said Luis Garcia, president of Garcia360, a San Antonio-based Hispanic consultancy. “What’s necessary is the development of an integrated solution that addresses the Hispanic market from every angle, from employing Hispanics at the management level to showing a corporate commitment to the community.”

  1. LAREDO, TEX.
    Percentage of population: 94.8

    According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the median household income in Laredo is$29,108, well below the state average of $39,927. On the other hand, retailersin this busy border-crossing city do a brisk business with Mexican daytrippers.The Mall Del Norte is one of the biggest shopping centers in Texas and thearea has a spate of outlet malls. El Portal Center, part of a downtown redevelopmentproject with 400,000 square feet of retail space, is being spearheaded bythe city of Laredo.
  2. MCALLEN-EDINBURG-MISSION, TEX.
    Percentage of population: 89.5

    McAllen had to contend with 15 percent unemployment in 2003 and a median householdincome of $26,977 for residents compared with $42,409 for the nation. Still,there’s no shortage of places to shop in the McAllen-Edinburg-Missionarea. Much of the money that pours into McAllen and surrounding border areascomes from wealthy Mexicans living across the border in Monterrey, which hasthe highest per capita concentration of millionaires in that country.

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